29 Again: A fable

What a concept.

A woman blows out her candles on her 75th birthday and makes a wish—to look like she’s 29 again. Who couldn’t relate to that?
Only in this story, it happens. She wakes up the next morning—and there she is—looking and feeling like her 29-year-old self with her 75- year- old brain and life experience.

This is the premise of a novel I just read by Adena Halpern; and also movies I’ve seen I can’t remember which ones.  And of course it sounds like a fairy tale. Only it isn’t.

This has actually happened….to me.  Just one detail in the story was altered:  I looked 29– and then suddenly one day I woke up and saw myself in the mirror, and I looked 75.   (One other minor thing:   in the book it happens to Ellie for just one day;  in real life, it’s permanent.)

And seriously that’s how shocking it felt — like how the hell did this happen? And that’s no fairy tale.

Meanwhile back to the fairy tale in the book.  Like anyone over 50 40 30  I could relate to this concept of magical youth for a day.

Could I even remember my 29 year old self?  I dug out a picture to remind me. And I wondered what I would do for 24 hours if I looked and felt like that again.

This picture was taken as I got off the plane on my first visit to Hawaii. I was newly married, 29   or maybe 30, who remembers?

And I wondered—- Was there something I missed doing that I’ve always wanted to do that I can’t do now?

When I started to think back—I started to think about something else. What describes Ellie’s thinking in the book pretty much described me.

For years, I think I spent less of my time living than looking back, re-examining and wishing I could un-do choices I had already made.

And if there’s is any wisdom (??) I’ve learned since 29— it’s how useless  to spend 24 hours —or even one hour—- living in regret.  I’ve promised myself not to do that—to live in the present and appreciate wherever and whatever I am RIGHT NOW.

But then I looked back at that picture of me arriving in Hawaii.  And spending the day on the beach in a sexy bikini started to sound pretty awesome……

So much for fairy tales.  What would you do?

I received this book free from  Left to Write book club. If you’d like to read it, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send it to someone.

Comments

  1. I think you still look lovely! You still have your amazing gorgeous hair. Yes, good reminder to live in the present and make it count!

    • I hate sounding like Pollyanna about living in the present but it’s SO true. And yes, definitely appreciate having my hair, especially since I lost it! Thanks so much.

  2. Natalia Miles says:

    I agree with Sylvia. I don’t know what your secrets are to looking young (good genes, great attitude, marriage to a great guy?), but you look so youthful and happy. Living in the here and now: this, too, is my daily mantra. Living in the past is my gravest mistake in life; what a burden. Why carry it around everyday and every night? East to say and harder to put into action, but it is worth the conscious effort. That book sounds like fun again; I will definitely check it out of the library.

    • I agree with Sylvia, too–Thanks for the sweet words—sure wish I had some real secret to pass on—I think living in the moment IS the secret no matter how you look. Like you, it’s been my biggest challenge and I have to remind myself to remain conscious of that. Although reading this book sent me spinning backwards—haha. It’s a fast read, helps reinforce the value of every day, every age. Thanks so much for commenting, hope you’re doing great.

  3. Natalia Miles says:

    Oops! I meant to type “easy,” not “east.”

  4. Your writing is inspirational and fun to read. Living in the moment is a universal truth. My fairy tale / magical wish would be to be the same age as each of my children for a day, and hang out with them! Or, all 5 ( Mark, our 3 kids & I ) of us would be 20 yrs. old and hang out for the day together as a group!

    :)

    Julia

    • Thank you. Love your idea for a magical wish–the book turns on Ellie’s wish to be her granddaughter’s age. and she spends her day mostly hanging out with her.
      I too kind of wish my children could have known—or remembered me—when I was younger. Maybe they’d consider it much more fun hanging out with me—although they really don’t complain even now—and I’m betting yours feel the same about hanging out with you.

  5. we all spend way too much time being disappointed with our bodies…then when we see a photo of that time – we think “wow – I looked great! what was I thinking!” Take a look at a photo of when you were in your 40’s….I just did…and back then thinking I had a fat stomach (I didn’t) thinking my hips were too wide (they weren’t). Now…Now…look at yourself and take in your beauty. In 10 more years, you’ll look back at this time and realize how beautiful you were. We need to really value how we are in the present – I, and so many other women I know, have spent just way too much time looking in the mirror critiquing ourselves! I know I’m preaching to the choir, all my beautiful friends! Thank you, body, for getting me this far!

  6. Couldn’t agree with you more. I look at old pictures and think exactly what you do. And wish I hadn’t been so critical of my body years ago but I’m not critical now! Though I joke about it, the truth is that I feel incredibly grateful also just to be here! Just wish younger women could know what we know now. Thanks so much for sharing such wise words, Kira.

  7. This resonates so: “For years, I think I spent less of my time living than looking back, re-examining and wishing I could un-do choices I had already made.” That’s me, my life. Although I’d never go back to 29 if the years between didn’t lead to where I am now. I may not love the wrinkles, the creaky knees, the inability to party hearty, but this is where I want to be.

    My post on the book is quite similar: my recollection of the instant (yes, instant) I realized I was getting older … at least in the eyes of males.

    • I think living in regret resonates with a LOT of people—the trick is to learn it early enough in life. I feel the same way you do–that all my earlier choices led me to where I am now—and I love being here, too. Enjoyed your description of when you realized you were getting older—I agree it happens in an instant!

  8. I agree with Kira’s post. I started to write the exact same post yesterday and some emergency came up and off I went without finishing it. But I didn’t need to because it was said beautifully by Kira. We all have spent too many years being critical of bodies that look pretty darn good in those old photos. I don’t think I would go back to any age because I like being in my sixties now. It seems like my parents and their peer group were a lot older when they were in their sixties than my peer group appears. I guess it’s more exercise, better dietary habits and health awareness that make that happen — and attitude. Whatever the reason, I am glad to be living now, and I basically like my body — although there is that pesky extra five pounds.

    • For all I’ve written about “Invisible women” I wouldn’t want to be older in our parents’ time either. Our peer group doesn’t seem “old” at all. And I think a lot is due to attitudes—yours being a great example.
      And though I’d love to have something to put in a bikini top (LOL), I really don’t dwell on my body at all anymore. Having cancer helped me stop worrying about it looks like—like Kira, I’m just grateful to my body for getting me here.

  9. I happy to be at the age I am now, 41. At 29, my life was absolutely falling apart. The love of my life had just gotten married, two guys I dated rapidly broke up with me, and I was almost 30!

    I am glad that I had some drama in my 20s. I have learned from it, but no way would I want to go back there again!

  10. Adena Halpern says:

    Thank you, Darryle, for your lovely post and for taking the time to read my book. You touch on a lot of the same issues and ideas that I grappled with when I was writing it. I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion: Above all, the most important thing is to learn to live in the moment.

  11. It’s funny, I’m turning 35 this year, but 29 sounded so young to me in this book. As I read I kept thinking, I should embrace how good I look now—not that it’s spectacular, but time and gravity (and pregnancy #3) are only working against me. Here’s to being beautiful and confident at every age!

  12. I’ve realized long ago that I am younger than my mother was at my current age. I think in general we have all become younger as time goes on. To me, this is both good & bad: the good is that we can feel freer to live our lives as we wish (& wear white after Labor Day); at the same time, I wonder if this has contributed more to society’s attitude of younger is better & older is dismissible. As with most things in life, there are two sides to every coin…….

    • I get what you mean—in our day people did seem to be so much older at an early age. The other day I just thinking how OLD the Miss American contestants used to look back in the day—maybe it’s just that we get used to current styles? Funny how it seems as if society get more obsessed with being younger, the older we get!

  13. When I read The Power of Now, I wanted to throw the book across the room. To be fair, life sucked a little more then, and that anger spurred me on to create a new now, a new present. It’s so much easier to appreciate what you have when you’re finally in a place that you want to be. And I probably wouldn’t appreciate as much had I not been where I was. But the years of truly enjoying the now are starting to add up, and it just might be that there are more of them than there were of the years wishing for something different.

  14. Thanks, April. I agree that you have to have bad times in order to fully appreciate the good. So it’s maybe easier to appreciate what you have when you are where you want to be. But I think even if NOW isn’t everything you wish it would be, appreciating what you DO have puts you in a better place. So I think it can work both ways—kind of like the chicken and the egg. Or maybe after all the good and bad experiences, we just learn to appreciate life in general more as we get older?

  15. For a day? I’d do it. I’d be curious to see what insights it led to in my own life.

  16. As I think about who I was and what I looked like at 29, I am much happier now –not yet 75, but certainly an official senior. It’s not the exterior (anyone reading your blog knows that) its the internal feeling of beauty that carries far more weight than the look of youth. Yes my skin was tighter, my hair hadn’t turned gray, so what? Experiences, both happy and sad contribute to wisdom, a sense of gratitude and an inner peace that no tight skin and dark hair can produce. Darryl, your ability to communicate is what defines a beauty that surpasses the picture of your youth.

  17. Bee, it’s SO wonderful hearing from someone who’s getting closer to the age of the character in the book–and especially you. Thanks so much for your sweet words and wisdom—it deepens the sense of a life well lived and gives something to look forward to–definitely for me, and anyone who reads what you wrote. I greatly appreciate your comment—and you!

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