Don’t believe a word of anything you’ve ever heard about the benefits or joys of aging. They are all nothing but platitudes and clichés at best, and in truth, outright lies and deceptions. The thing is, no one, and I do really, really mean, no one, either likes the idea of getting older or is enjoying the heck out of the whole getting older thing. Let’s face it, what is there to like about it? Oh, I know the whole, what are the alternatives thing? yeah, yeah, blah, blah. I get it, and I agree that being dead sucks a heck of a lot more that growing old.
Fine, so now that we’ve gotten that whole old B.S. argument out of the way let’s get down to reality, and reality is that I have never met anyone who is dancing for joy at the thought of aging. Why, I ask you would anyone like the idea of seeing your body doing things you never imagined in your worst dreams that it would do. It’s a total betrayal of all the care and attention you may have given it throughout your life. And I don’t care how much you’ve exercised, how well you’ve fed it, clothed it, moisturized it and pampered it. It is inevitable that eventually parts of it spread, sag, stiffen up, hurt, fall, widen, sprout unwanted hair, lose unwanted muscle tone, lose elasticity, and misbehave in a million other ways that you never saw coming.
When I look at pictures of myself in my 20’s and 30’s and look at myself now I wonder what the hell happened? What’s sad is that it creeps up on you. You don’t see the difference from one day to the next, or even from one week or month to the next. Yet one day you wake up and look in the mirror and you know that you are not the same person that looked in that same mirror, in really, what doesn’t seem all that long ago. Yet the mirror doesn’t lie. You are looking older. What used to be high cheek bones are now still high cheek bones, but the skin is no longer adhering to those bones. Instead, it has decided to migrate to the lower part of your face and become jowls, you know, those little pouches of flesh on either side of your chin, which by the way, is not as defined as it used to be either. And the same southern migration has happened to your eyelids, which are now threatening to fall over your eyes even when they are wide open. And the skin under “them eyes” isn’t staying put where it should either.
The same effects of gravity that are ravaging your face are taking their toll on all the other parts of your anatomy. And let me emphasize that the result of all that gravitational pull isn’t doing much to improve either your figure or your outlook on the future of that figure. And what’s with all the unwanted hair that sprouts from the weirdest places. And why does it do that? Just this week my sweetie had a piece of Kleenex attached to the side of his ear. When I asked him about this oddity he said he had cut himself.
“How?” I asked, “could you cut your ear?
“I was trimming the hairs growing out of my ear,” was his response. “It’s what happens when you get older, hair grows out of your ears.”
I must say, that is just plain wrong. Men have the double whammy of having to deal with the sad reality of thinning hairlines, and adding insult to injury, having to deal with their lost locks migrating from the top of their heads into strange territory, like the inside of their ears, nose and heaven only knows where else.
The other day a good friend of mine and I were talking about the whole aging thing and she said that she didn’t think that she could run anymore. She said she hadn’t tried it in a long time, but that she was sure that even if she had to run for any reason that she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to do it. It got me thinking about it and while walking the track at the gym the other day I decided that I would try and see if I could do it. I took a few fast strides and then decided to reconsider the whole attempt to run since I don’t think that there is a sports-bra made that would be strong enough to protect me if I really tried to seriously give it a go. It saddened me because I remember a time when I could sprint with the best of them and get up to a pretty good speed in a short amount of time without having to consider whether parts of my body would sway out of control or go in opposing directions to the intended one.
And then there are the visits to the doctor. Those are really terribly depressing. Whenever you complain about something hurting you can be sure that the doctor’s explanation for whatever ails you will be prefaced with the words “well, you know, as we get older……” That’s when you know you are doomed. From this point on in your life those words will always be the explanation for the deterioration happening to whatever part of your anatomy that happens to be under discussion. And I don’t care if it is your digestive tract, a sore joint, moles sprouting, veins popping or calcium deposits shaking loose in your inner ear. It is all age related and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it from happening. It is going to happen. Why? Because you are getting old.
And then there are your conversations with friends. Notice how those change with age? As you get older whenever you get together with friends the conversation eventually and inevitably gravitates to the topic of which part or parts of your body are misbehaving and to what tortuous and humiliating medical procedure or test you will be shortly subjected to for the purpose of finding out why or what the problem is with said body part.
No, the whole myth of “getting better with age” only applies to wine, single malt and some cheeses. It most definitely does not apply to humans. Age is only fun from birth until somewhere in our mid-thirties. After that the fun part is over and the slide toward annoying and really annoying begins. I doubt there is a person out there who is truthfully not frightened of what getting older will do to them. I don’t think you can be sane and not be afraid of aging. It sucks. Some of us will age more gracefully and in better condition and health than others. But the bottom line is that we are all getting older by the minute.
So, with that comforting thought I will end this with the poem “Crabbed Age and Youth,” sometimes attributed to the Bard but officially anonymous, which perhaps tells it best:
Crabbed Age and Youth
Cannot live together:
Youth is full of pleasance,
Age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn,
Age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave,
Age like winter bare.
Youth is full of sport,
Age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, Age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold,
Age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and Age is tame.
Age, I do abhor thee;
Youth, I do adore thee;
O, my Love, my Love is young!
Age, I do defy thee:
O, sweet shepherd, hie thee!
For methinks thou stay’st too long.
? by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), from The Passionate Pilgrim, XII.