Gaining Confidence with Age in an Antique Shop

Regardless of how many candle adorn your cake, there’s one lesson to be learned from antiques: The older and more authentic they are, the more beautiful they become.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the feelings have resurfaced. In a mere month, it will be time to add another candle to my birthday cake. The candles keep piling up, to the point where perhaps a fire extinguisher would be prudent.

At the moment, I’m questioning whether or not my best years are behind me. Have I got anything worthwhile left to offer? Mirrors that were once my friends have turned cruel, and I’m convinced that all scales are deceitful—even downright evil.

At best, getting older is a sobering prospect. So it’s no wonder that, when I wandered into an antique shop recently, I felt oddly at home. Fighting off a wave of melancholy, I meandered about.

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From a distance, a bench caught my eye and drew me in. I was intrigued. Its appearance was classically charming and undeniably stylish. As I neared, I noticed the wood’s subtle, telling wear. I shouldn’t have expected it to be flawless—I was in an antique shop, after all. As such, there was no attempt at trickery or touch-up. Rather, the bench made a confident statement exactly as it was.

Certainly, the thing had been around, and lives had unfolded around it—countless conversations and secrets shared. Maybe, just maybe, the bench came from the home of a famous Pennsylvanian. Perhaps even Ben Franklin himself found comfort on it, perhaps while contemplating one of his numerous experiments. Regardless of its true history, this bench exhibited unquestioned worth.

Then I got to thinking: Maybe I wasn’t so different. I can never go back, yet I’m exactly where I should be. Like the bench, I show signs of age. How can I not? My body has delivered new life into this world. My face bears the worry and laugh lines of motherhood. Within me lies the wisdom and confidence—the hard-earned wear and tear—that comes with experiencing life.

As I left the antique shop, I didn’t feel so sorry for myself. The air was crisp; I took a long, deep breath. Lured by the aroma of chocolate, I stepped through another doorway. Candy everywhere. The little girl inside me resurfaced.

I glanced at my watch, witnessing time literally passing before my eyes. Yes, life was good—and I could always be young at heart.

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JoAnne Cannon is a firm believer that, with age, comes wisdom.

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