Is Aging Really That Bad?

We live in a youth-obsessed world.  Young matters.  Age matters.  We want to look 25 when we’re 30 and didn’t you know, 50 is the new 40.

I used to think I would grow old gracefully.  I scoffed at the idea of botox, peels or any other treatment for my face…because I had the face of youth.  Now, as I mature, I realize my opinions on these matters are changing…maybe one day I will be willing to sacrifice the use of my eyebrows for a smooth forehead or the width of my smile for smooth cheeks and expressionless eyes…maybe not.

But, aging is not an issue only of the surface.  It goes deep.  Deep into our muscles, bones, synapses, memories…and plays evil tricks.

I wasn’t expecting for so much of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera to focus so much on aging, what we feel as we age, what we fear and how it affects us.  Here are some passages on aging in the book:

“…men blossomed in a kind of autumnal youth, they seemed more dignified with their first gray hairs, they became witty and seductive, above all in the eyes of young women while their withered wives had to clutch at their arms so as not to trip over their own shadows.” (256)  The double-standard of aging – men get better with age, women don’t – was alive and well in the era of the book’s story (turn of last century).  Age is not wise, revered or well worn.  It is cruel and burdensome, especially for women.

“A few years later, however, the husbands fell without warning down the precipice of humiliating aging in body and soul, and then it was their wives who recovered and had to lead them by the arm as if they were blind men on charity…” (256)  Any advantage men have over women is yanked away quickly, according to this novel, and they are cruelly left with a decrepit body.  Age makes you dependent upon another.

“Florentino Ariza had seen himself reflected so often in that mirror that he was never as afraid of death as he was of reaching that humiliating age when he would have to be led on a woman’s arm.” (257) All sense of free will, self-sufficiency is lost.

Have I thoroughly depressed you yet?  I’m depressed…if that’s where I’m headed then bring on the botox!  (At least I’ll be wrinkle free when I’m tripping over my own shadow).

Seriously though, I wasn’t expecting this kind of portrayal about aging…the last novel I read about an old woman was Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel – and, for all it’s literary merits, it pretty much killed any interest I had in an older protagonist.  Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business shows the aging of characters – but, more of the psychological effect that our youth has on our old age.  This novel describes the the fear of physical aging and it makes sense since it is about (a supposed) love that lasts half a century (more or less).

Old age consumes bodies and minds…but, in none of these characters, does it consume their spirit.

Fermina Daza remains honourable, rigid, enraged.  Dr. Juvenal Urbino is true to his meticulous perfectionism.  Florentino Ariza devotes himself to love in any form.

Age might do away with who we are physically, but isn’t it the spirit that matters most?

What are your views on aging?  Have you come across any characters that have challenged those views for you?

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Is Aging Really That Bad?

  1. The only thing that bugs me about my own aging is that it means my parents are aging, too (and weren’t they supposed to stay in their 40’s forever?). Other than that, I really have no issues with it, yet. Ask me this question again in four years when I turn 40, and you might get a different answer. Haha! I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that.

    Like

    • True. I watch my mom aging (which she’s doing beautifully – I thank her for her genes quite often), and it’s disconcerting to say the least. Opinions on many issues change with age, I guess that includes on how we will age.

      Like

  2. The issue about being dependent on someone scares the hell out of me. I don’t really care about the vanity aspect of it. And funnily, I have the opposite issue that Heather has. I really feel odd about aging when I see my children growing up so quickly, and then I realize the years have just flown by.

    Like

    • Ah, yes. I didn’t realize motherhood would speed up time the way it has. Watching my son grow up is fantastic and a constant reminder that I too continue to grow (up) old 🙂

      Like

  3. Pingback: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez | Book Marks

  4. We are an age- and looks-obsessed society in America. It’s a shame, because the assumption is that aging and changing take away from who you are based on how you look. Especially in how women compete with and criticize each other, even more so in celebrity. It should instead be about the spirit.

    Like

    • The older I get, the more I appreciate aging, if that makes any sense. I am so happy to be in a part of my life that is not anxiety-ridden based on my weight or appearance. I take care of myself to be healthy and happy – that is how it should be. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  5. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s not that bad… it’s something absolutely normally and if we really want to have a smooth skin, there are procedures like Botox or skin tightening treatments. These are very good, but made with moderation. Personally, I’m at my second session of skin tightening at http://www.skinvitality.ca and I already see some little changes… I can’t wait for my final results.

    Like

    • Cool. I’ve heard of skinvitaliy…will investigate further. Nice to hear from someone who is undergoing moderate treatments and is liking the results. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  6. Aging (from 40 and up ) is a living nightmare ! Both for man and woman. Not nice at all to live knowing you are going to die and be humiliated every day from your 40s up. And it gets worse and worse every day… You feel like hiding from others, dont want to look in the mirror no more, You look stupid wearing the clothes you used to look great in..You forget for a sec. that you are middle aged pile of shit and smile at young girl/boy like you used to …….and others think you are sick old fart Thinking of going to bad with someone your own age makes you want to vomit.. etc etc
    ITS A LIVING HELL..
    Dont do this to others ! Dont get pregnant !

    Like

  7. I guess this is the place where moderator only allows people to leave thread who say nice thinks about aging. Aging is a wonderful thing. You will find out on your own.:)

    Like

      • Aging ( getting old) is the worst disease of all. Has no mercy.I t gets to everyone.You rotten alive 🙂 Ever herd elderly saying ” don’t get old”
        Well……you can always choose fishing to replace………. living 🙂

        Like

Your Turn! Share Your Thoughts Here

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s