The aging process begins from the moment of “newness”, the instant of conception. Everything, sentient and not, conceived and built, ages. Nothing is exempt. Just more proof that the worn rug under my feet is no different than I am. But our youth-obsessed culture has people getting plastic surgery even before the appearance of the first wrinkle or grey hair. Wearing your age as a badge of honor is almost unacceptable in today’s society. Advertising and Hollywood are not the only institutions at whose feet blame can be laid, but they are certainly two of the most responsible parties.
It is especially difficult for women. Men are considered a bit more dashing and sophisticated with some silver in their hair and a few character lines. But women are barraged with images of sixteen year-olds gliding down fashion runways in clothes only they can wear. They are assaulted with ads in every medium, for anti-aging creams, lotions and potions, all touting to erase wrinkles and fade age spots. The cosmetic surgery industry is booming. No one wants to get older. I’ve got a news flash: You will anyway. And your face lift will not stave off cancer or a stroke.
Yes, the aging process is sometimes a pain in the ass, as well as the joints. Aches and pains come with the territory, we all slow down a bit, and some things are more difficult to do. As for me, I have bad knees, angina, pulmonary hypertension (which BTW, I have had for ages), a bad back, a repaired, shattered ankle with rods and screw holding it together, and sleep apnea. I will never be able to run again – I used to run 10 miles a day – and I get out of breath taking a long walk. I can’t indulge in activities like roller blading or ice skating – I was once a student of figure skating – and even standing for any length of time is painful.
Does it make me sad? In a word, No. I mean, yeah it would be nice to run a bit from time to time, but the truth is that there are things I can do now, at 67, that I never could do when I was a runner. With age has come wisdom, as well as silver hair, which I no longer color, and wear with pride. With age has come overwhelming gratitude for Life in general, and for my third “second chance”. I am living proof that we continue to grow, evolve, and become our best selves no matter our age.
Some of my friends have said I am an exception, as I have learned to embrace change, and have made some big changes. I like myself more than I ever have been able to, and stand in admiration of my accomplishments. 67 looks very good on me, and I revel in getting older as I know only more good is coming, more growth, greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, and understanding. I am getting a bit jowly, but I don’t have too many wrinkles yet; however, I welcome them, as they will reflect who I am – my past, present and future.
I find wearing the signs of aging an honor. They mean I have come through a lot and am still here. They tell my story to those who have the ability to look hard and really see. They say, “This is Andie!”, and I am proud to be her.
I wish more of society accepted the aging process with grace. I wish it weren’t such an anathema to be wizened. You can be wizened and still vital. Vitality is quality not quantity. At 67 I am more vital than I ever was. I think getting old is one of life’s greatest gifts, and it tickles me that I am considered to be elderly. I like it! It doesn’t frighten me that it means I am closer to my mortality. It is part of Life’s grand dance. And I am dancing, baby!
Andie – Fae, Eccentric, Adorable