The sun was a spotlight through the windshield. I shook my head and blinked my eyes to make sure that what I was seeing was real, to make sure that it wasn't a trick of the light, that I wasn't mistaken. I flexed my fingers on the steering wheel to make sure the hands on it were actually attached to my arms.
Raised veins snaked across the back of my outstretched hands. Sharp lines defined them instead of soft angles. There were age spots where there was once clearly smooth flesh. Wrinkles framed the knuckles, not gently contoured skin. How could these belong to me? These are the hands of an old woman!
This truth widened up from my tailbone, skittered down my back and fingered across my shoulders. My going-grey hair lifted at the back of my neck as full awareness shot through me and I splayed my fingers in a gut-sigh of surprise. These are my hands! This isn't a concept. This isn't a spiritual axiom. This isn't me being centered and oh-so-wonderful in the face of my culture telling me my body is too old.
A few months before, a man had called me "wrinkly" and I thought I'd weathered this transitioning of me towards old. I'd written about it in an article called "My 'Naked' Truth" and I'd received accolades and anger for talking about standing naked in front of a mirror honoring my aging body. This was different. This was way different.
This was me being totally inside the shifting of my years. This was bloody and raw reality pouring through me at the level of my DNA. I had become someone else while I wasn't looking. It was as if a little kid in the grocery store was pointing at me and asking, "Mommy, what's wrong with that lady? Why does she look that way?" And there I sat in the car and I cried. This is it. This is my life -- and so very, very much of it is gone.
A voice in my head laughed wickedly as it sneered, "Did you really think you were going to get away with this so easily? Did you really think you were done with this aging thing? How arrogant of you! How foolish of you!" As my tears welled and rolled, all I could think of was how very innocent I had been.
I don't know how to do this third age of my life -- these years between middle-age and old. I don't have a roadmap for what lies before me. I'm not some airbrushed and face-lifted women happily hawking anti-aging cream. "Noticeable difference in as little as three weeks!" I'm a child of the 1960s and 70s where rock and roll was my birthright. I was going to change the world and the "Age of Aquarius" meant I would be forever young. I felt cheated and somehow betrayed. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. But it has. My hands are telling me that my youth is done. I've become the grey-haired lady in the drug store.
As I head into my 60th birthday, a whole new feeling about myself is emerging. Everything that I thought was valid and settled is now up for grabs. I don't want to be doing the same things I was doing a year ago or five years ago. I want to misbehave. I want to kick this thing called "my life" and rock it wide open. I want to dance it and question it. There is an aching need for me to tear it all apart and look at the pieces -- where have I been, what have I done and where am I going now? Where is the meaning and power, the potency, joy, laughter and wonder of my life?
I'm on my way to a place I've never really thought much about. Wait, to be really honest, I never thought about it at all! I wasn't planning on getting old. Do any of us? But into my future I must go. So, with my heart open and my spirit very curious, I am walking full-wide and brave into this next great adventure of my life. I'm walking into the hands of time.
To learn about her new book, "Soul on the Run," go to: www.SoulOnTheRun.com