The Thing About Aging

roses-3194057_1280Aging was okay when I was young

When I was 25, I swore I would grow old gracefully. I was young and naive and had great skin. So I couldn’t possibly envision an older version of myself. I also didn’t understand that there was so much more to aging than just wrinkles.

Aging in my 40s

Now that I’m 43, I see aging as so much more than the spots and lines on my face, the greying and thinner hair, the sudden, incomprehensible aches, the changing hormones and more pronounced, bizarre monthly cycles. Those are physical markers of aging. I do what I can to keep looking my best and keep physically healthy. However, I’ve gathered that aging has a little more to do with feeling my best.

Every day, there is a decision to be made. Either embrace life with the zeal I had in my early years or succumb to the cynicism and negativity which the world readily doles out. Therein lies aging. The moment I complain about the weight of my responsibilities and the pressures of adulthood, my life instantly feels worse. I feel worse. I feel weary and, well, old.

It’s not easy to talk myself into having a good day when I know it’s full of things which need to be done, have to be done, are waiting…to.be.done. And, just as I’m about to fall into the pit of aging, I’m saved by the reminder of a story I once read. A simple and very sad story, about a woman who lost her best friend and had to watch her friend’s daughters grow up without her. Every day at school, she met a father who claimed to be “living the life” each time he was picking up his children. And those words stuck with her, because her friend could no longer “live the life”.

To be “living the life” usually implies grand wealth and easy living. But, to most of us, that isn’t the kind of life we have. What is accessible is the life we have designed for ourselves. Which includes hard work in a career of our choosing (sometimes), endless responsibilities in the home, with our children, our parents, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with our spouse in the hopes we will live out our years together.

I have begun to use this little phrase to break me out of my funk. I feel grateful to be “living the life” because it means I’m alive. It means I’m here to be with everyone I love. As soon as I recall this, I feel lighter and all the things don’t seem so burdening. I also feel energized and, well, young.

The thing about aging is that “it beats the alternative”

(one of my dear friends quotes this from one of her late relatives)

The thing about aging is that you’re either aging or you’re not. Procedures might erase the physical markers of aging, but the energetic feeling and endless possibilities you believed in your youth cannot be injected into you or carved out of you. I for one, choose to “live the life”, embrace the chaos and love every minute of it (or not, but at least somewhere in the struggle, remember I’m lucky to be living it).

I will also purchase the best anti-aging cream I can afford because great skin is nice.

How do you keep yourself youthful?

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Wednesday Quotables: Aging

Wed quotables 3

Aging. Yuck! Yet, not so yuck.

It was my birthday last week and as I near the big 4-0 I realize that I look pretty damn good for my age. Even better, I feel amazing. I am comfortable in my freckly, sunspotty skin, with my some days curly/some days frizzy/some days stright hair and my softer post-pregnancy curves. Life is beautiful and aging is too.

Enjoy today’s quotables. I hope you find inspiration in your own aging.

from enjoyingtheepiphany.com

from enjoyingtheepiphany.com

from pinterest.com

from pinterest.com

from funnyrinx.com

from funnyrinx.com

from huffingtonpost.com

from huffingtonpost.com

from mundanecstasy.com

from mundanecstasy.com

from huffingtonpost.com

from huffingtonpost.com

from pinterest.com

from pinterest.com

from barbarashallue.typepad.com

from barbarashallue.typepad.com

from pinterest.com

from pinterest.com

We live in a youth-obsessed culture. We must fight that obsession by being our best and loving ourselves at every age. My goal is to be a little old lady wearing a great pair of shoes who can look back at her life and smile.

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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?