Recently I have been struggling with components of getting older. Southern California has its focus on youth and appearance no doubt so it is a brutal place to age. I’m as vain as the next person, however the idea of injecting stuff into my face does not appeal to me in the least. And the way some people appear so altered (Wayne Newton and Cher come to mind) seems sad in a way, their attempt to freeze time.
But what bothers me more is my body’s response when I ask things of it that used to come with ease. I never needed glasses, now I need my magnifying readers to see some print. If I crouch down to play with the dogs, my knees which never gave me problems seem to lock up and I have to get up slowly as they “unlock”. (I try not to do the moan as I slowly rise, and I think geez – now I look like one of those old people who’ve “fallen and I can’t get up” commercials!) So comes the various aspects of a body’s aging. But I suppose what’s most alarming to me is how rapidly these changes seem to have arrived; just in the past year or so.
A birthday card said: “If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you think you were?” This gave me pause to think. Really think. I guess since I’ve not married nor had children, my family is still my core family, the one I grew up with. So having not done various life milestones it seems my mind still has me thinking like a much younger person. And certainly in my spirit I am still only in my 30’s, - a child of my parents, a sibling to my remaining sister and brother. In my spirit I do not feel my current chronological age.
But still the dilemma; how does one age and not let the challenges of aging bring one down? I suppose it’s a healthy acceptance of what one’s body can still do, and striving to do behaviors and activities to be as healthy as the Lord intended I be at this age, within my natural means.
I was reading Dr. Andrew Weil’s book “Healthy Aging” where he writes of people not respecting what their bodies are capable of, as they age. For instance he writes, men often push themselves too far playing a sport their 30 something body could play but which their 60 something body should not be playing – and doctors see them in the hospital with an injury that will take much longer to heal and which may just give them fits well into their advancing years.
Dr. Weil writes of his mother Jenny who at 89 went in a small raft in Alaska to see whales close up…and at age 90 went to New York City with a much younger friend. Upon arriving in the city, Jenny got right to business. They walked to the MET from her friend’s apartment and in route came across a street fair where Jenny went from stand to stand. Then got to the MET and they viewed the entire Impressionist section. They then went out for dinner and finally to the theater that night. When finally back to the apartment the younger woman was ready to collapse, but Jenny said “that was a really fun day but I wish we could have done more”. What a zeal for life! That’s what I hope I always have.
And so, as much as I can I will stop agonizing over the new wrinkle in the mirror and the effects of gravity on my body parts, my creaking knees, and struggling eyes. I will acknowledge and then release these new challenges my body is presenting me. Rather I will celebrate life and thank my body for what it provides me still.
If you didn’t know…how old would you be?