Sunday, September 28, 2008
Who's a sissy?
Getting old isn’t for sissies.
- Bette Davis
When did it happen? When did I merge into the realm of ma’am instead of miss? When did I cross into the official time zone of middle age? When did the sad realization hit me that Bette Davis is right? Getting old is definitely not for sissies.
When we are in our twenties we live glorious, self-centered lives. We are strong and tan and full of vitality, oblivious to a future of paying the piper. In our thirties we come full into adulthood and embrace our responsibilities, while hanging on to a sliver of youthful abandon and defiance of what is yet to come.
In our forties we settle comfortably into our lives, keeping a stalwart denial that things are changing. We laugh about how our knees pop when we get up or how we will feel less than perky the morning after too much wine. It’s still amusing. It’s still not real. Not me. Unhuh. No way.
Then we cross the threshold of fifty and after suffering the surprising damage of eating cucumbers or red peppers, we can no longer refute the possibility that our bodies are just not the same. The popping knee is no longer a joke. The vino impairment a sad awakening.
I don’t know about you, but my body continues to taunt me with the consequences of aging. I can remember with stark clarity the day I looked in the mirror and realized my butt was no longer where it belonged. The tight little touché that once audaciously perched just below my waist, now spreads itself over the top of my thighs. Time had stolen my bum.
All of us mid-lifers know too well the dread of sagging skin. The elbows, the neck, the mid-section that we’ve come to know as “muffin top”. But, alas, it also shows up in startling places. One morning, as I was doing my Child’s pose yoga stretch, with head leaning forward, I noticed my field of vision was obscured. I sat up. Vision was okay. I leaned forward. Obscured. With alarming awareness I realized that my cheeks were sliding up into my eye wells. Ahh, that’s just cruel.
But there are other remarkable qualities that come with aging. Determination. Grace. Tenacity. Wonderful characteristics that if adopted with enthusiasm, help us get past the heartburn, the hair growing in the wrong places, the gas, the aching joints and flapping skin. Reticence is replaced by joie de vivre. Uncertainty by clarity. Ego makes way for acceptance.
There’s another anonymous quote that I like:
Youth is the gift of nature,
But age is a work of art.
So as we waddle down the road of the inevitable, we have a choice: Live artfully, or whine like a sissy.