There are a lot of things to be said about aging. I say, unequivocally, aging is a part of nature, and therefore to be not just accepted, but revered, enjoyed, treasured, in any form.
I sit here, a shadow of my younger self. I am blessed to have “aged well,” as some would put it. For me, 40 is literally around the corner, and I’m still getting carded regularly (and I mean they actually look, and look again, and sometimes look a third time to be sure) for cigarettes, for beer, for entry, for anything that requires an age over 18. My mother is asian, so I have those genes to thank. I also tend to believe that my extra levels of self care (good health, good diet, good activity level) lend to my lack of the more distinct signs of aging. So I take the regular mistakes about how old, or rather, how young I am as a complement and give thanks to my ancestry and good sense.
However part of me is disappointed that I have not yet fully earned the distinction of age. My hair has lost the luster of my youth, and is going quite white in places. The lines on my face are deeper, and spots have appeared on my skin. I am softer and rounder in places, and things sag that used to stand quite firm. I am slower, and less resilient in everything. I know it’s only a matter of time before I’ve gone completely white and my joints will not just mildly protest to excessive movement, but rather yell out in disdain when not properly cared for, and rested. And I relish the thoughts of those years ahead!
(Ok, maybe I don’t relish the thoughts of the aches and pains that will come with aging. But more so accept those few less-than-desireables along the way as a badge of courage, or accomplishment, or at least as a sign that yes, I am still alive.)
We live in a world where youth is worshipped and aging is to be avoided at all costs…….but that only applies to us. Why?
We search for antiques and somehow place more value on that which is older.
We collect old stamps, old coins, old cars, simply because they are old.
We relish aged wine, aged cheese, aged whiskey and appreciate the fullness and extra subtleties of taste that the aging process brings. And it’s nature which imparts these things we adore so much. It’s time, and environment, and reactions to that which is around that changes and forms and ages these things to perfection. The natural yeasts and bacteria that lives all around us get in there and colonize. They eat and bubble and eat and change and eat and ferment and the more they eat, the more they round out the flavors and impart new characteristics and take that new born grape juice or milk or corn and make it into something deeper and richer and better.
So why do we shun these same processes in ourself? Age is a badge of accomplishment in nature. The tree that has stood for hundreds, or even thousands of years is a giant, in any form, among its surroundings. The old lion, or elk, or gorilla is the survivor, the strongest and the smartest, the leader of their troupe. In nature, age is respected, revered, appreciated. Old age is something to aspire to, because if you’ve gotten old, you’ve gotten old! You’ve survived. You’re still going. There may be scars and marks and sagging parts, but, dammit, you’re still trucking along and that is great!
So I relish my white hair, which is starting to appear in eyebrows, and no, I won’t be plucking those thank-you-very-much! And I relish the ever increasing spots on my skin, and will not be covering them with a “made-up face” (really think about that phrase, and the implications of it….). And I relish my soft belly that held my beautiful children, and that part on the back of my arms which is capable of performing the “double wave” if I wave at someone a bit to enthusiastically. And I relish my increasing slowness, because it gives me opportunity to see and experience the things I would have missed when I was younger and running around all the time.
A sleepy bee I found hiding amongst the lemon flowers one chilly morning
And I relish my earlier bedtimes, because I get to see the sunrise every morning.