Ponder this:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Scribblings: Aging

Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "Aging."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, under the headline "Healthy Aging for Older Adults," says:

"The United States is on the brink of a longevity revolution. By 2030, the proportion of the U.S. population aged 65 and older will double to about 71 million older adults, or one in every five Americans. The far-reaching implications of the increasing number of older Americans and their growing diversity will include unprecedented demands on public health, aging services, and the nation’s health care system.”

My God, that sounds discouraging. It gives me a mental picture of slack-jawed, empty-eyed, ungroomed old people in wheelchairs parked in filthy institutional corridors. That vision could menace my mind like Poe’s raven if I allowed it.

We baby boomers are an Aging Population.
Well. Everybody’s aging.
As soon as a baby’s born, he begins aging.
Aging is simply living.

Sales and marketing industries, thriving on fear of infirmity and poverty, would go belly up without products purporting to control and reverse the signs of aging in everything from fingernails to brain function. Advertising for anti-aging cosmetics features airbrushed photographs of twenty-two-year-olds. No sign anywhere of a pore or the tiniest facial hair.
Not so long ago, women were the target market, but now more of that appeal is targeted toward men. Men with gray hair: won’t get jobs; won’t get women; are consigned to sitting in easy chairs reading newspapers.
Once they become restored to the youthful look of full-color hair, their social and economic prospects instantly improve. Presumably, they will never again have inclination or time to read the news.

I have never truly feared growing older; I have always been only too happy to move onward.

When I was contemplating one of the early “zero” birthdays, a friend tried to relieve my momentary flutter of apprehension, telling me, “You might be halfway through your life, but you get to live the second half the way you want to.” Still mid-apprehensive flutter, I looked at him askance. It sounded like good propaganda, but I knew him to be not excessively wise. He was right, though.

When I was twenty-five I knew several women who all happened to be forty-two. They seemed far more comfortable than I. They seemed to be having fun. They seemed to know who they were, to have formed a life matrix to which they could, if they chose, add new experiences. Forty-two was a great year for me. So good, in fact, that I looked forward to forty-three. I still know people far older than I who are comfortable with their lives and themselves. I think there is a leveling at some point in life, at which the chronological age matters not at all in how much enjoyment can be achieved and shared.

The mechanics and the chemistry of my body are slowing down: There’s that. My eyeglass prescription grows stronger with each examination. If I eat pizza, I'm puffy a little longer than I used to be.

A few years ago, after a wonderful long dinner at a fine local restaurant, a friend and I stood up slowly and creakily. “We’re like two old wooden lawn chairs unfolding!” she muttered, and the aptness of the image sent us into gales of helpless laughter. We would have laughed longer, but we both had to progress expeditiously to the ladies' room.

I think I will continue to be comfortable with the gradual physical changes of aging. I know people, some far younger than I, who attend to each ache and pain and assiduously seek medical attention at astonishingly short intervals.
If you think too much about how you feel, you’ll never feel good.

I’ve benefited so much from growing older that I can hardly imagine that continuing that process will be a negative experience.
Aging suits me, I think.

The only part of aging that concerns me is something that has begun already. My linguistic mental rolodex cards are becoming a little slower to flip, and I find that I need to ponder a little longer to avoid repetition when I want a different verbal nuance. Still, it’s nothing to the repetition I hear in people still at Aging Denial stage: Consider the frequency of “Awesome!”

I'll keep my slow rolodex, thanks.


A Girl Named Me said...

Well done...

I love this line...We would have laughed longer, but we both had to progress expeditiously to the ladies' room.


Karen said...

Beautifully expressed!

Tumblewords: said...

Perfect! Love the 'wooden lawn chairs' example! Aging happens...

Jennifer Hicks said...

this is fantastic. makes me really excited to climb the ladder of life (would that be climbing up or down? guess it's all in how you look at it)

SweetTalkingGuy.. said...

Nice little write, see there's nothing to be scared of, is there?

jay said...

That is beautifully written and it contains beautiful sentiments!

I'm not quite so resigned to the ageing process as you are, but I'm not going to let it stop me having fun, either!

alphawoman said...

Enjoyed this very much!

Carolynn Anctil said...

That was...awesome! ;o)

I agree. I've never been afraid of aging. I have such amazingly alive & vibrant role models in my mother (still working at 75), my aunts (one the Mayor of her small town), and my grandmother (looking after 'old ladies' and herself turning 99 this year...). Pretty big shoes to fill.

I turned 48 this year and I've never felt more at home in my skin. Sure, I'd like to feel a little more physically fit (and I'm working on that), but overall, I like who I am and who I'm still becoming.


You rock!

~Red Tin Heart~ said...

Great post.
xoxo Nita

Kim said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post. I feel similarly about all you said,which unfortunately includes the slowing of the mental Rolodex. thanks for a good read.

Unknown said...

There are several reasons that ensure that some of us a little aging faster than others.