Eleven percent of Houston’s residents are aged 60 or older. What’s your philosophy on growing older?
“I’m too old to roll but I still can rock!” quipped my grandmother from her rocking chair. In the Sixties (both the era and her age) she was perfectly happy to be an “older lady.” Of course, that was before the pressure of staying forever young had been fully realized by her contemporaries. Sadly, many Baby Boomers have allowed themselves to be marketed into despising their real selves, or at least their real ages.
Grouch Marx claimed that there was nothing special about aging. “Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” But folks today often want to age minus annoying adjectives like “old.” The thing about aging these days is that everyone wants to grow, themselves, old; but no one wants to show themselves old.
Baby Boomers, of course, like to defy authority and fiddle with the rules. If perception is reality, maybe we can find the fountain of youth by just stretching the boundaries a bit. “Fifty is the new forty.” Rethink. Redefine. Renew!
Age gracefully? Not on your life. We’re ready to kick aging’s figurative butt, or maybe reshape it with spandex, exercise or, if necessary, surgery. And forget antiquated namby-pamby half-measures like cold cream. Beauty regimens today read like science fiction: retinoids! antioxidants! microdermabrasion!
Lucille Ball summed it up for us, “The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” An amusing quote until you realize that if you “live honestly” you cannot “lie about your age.” That, disturbingly, really defines the dilemma.
While we needn’t accept arbitrary limitations or silly stereotypes, it’s also important to recognize that being blindly adamant about seeming younger than one’s birth certificate reveals does inherently imply that there are only negatives in aging. Of course there are drawbacks! Gravity is no longer my friend. Senior moments? This is my senior year! Still, I am happier with being me than I could imagine being at seventeen.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being–and looking–your best at any age. The word cosmetics actually comes from the Greek “kosmos”–surely that substantiates the “universal” importance of looking good! But when we are consumed merely with appearances at any age we ae headed for trouble.
I have to confess the “kosmos” thing really refers to “order.” So what about order, what about, say, priorities? Could it be that our priorities–emotional, physical, spiritual–are more important to aging well than how young we look? Could our real beauty at any age have more to do with harmony than haircolor? More to do with moral tone than muscle tone? Should we celebrate who we are, where we are? Could it be that we can graciously and joyfully embrace any season in which we find ourselves?
Deep thoughts! One thing I do know, humor brings perspective. It almost certainly has anti-aging effects as well. This video brings a whole new understanding to the concept of being comfortable in one’s own skin. So enjoy this YouTube take on aging—gracefully or otherwise.