The Art of Aging Disgracefully – A Prelude

funny old ladyIt’s true. I’m getting old.

There comes a time in one’s life where you can’t deny it any longer.  Grey hairs, fine lines, sagging skin, age spots – they continue to gang up on me until there is no denying that I  – like everyone else – am going to eventually lose this battle.  Having said that, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:  I’ve come to accept that I cannot stop time from its relentless march forward – but I don’t have to do it gracefully.

I know what you’re thinking – but let me assure you I am not promoting some miracle cream or pill that promises endless youth.  I realize that shopping at Forever 21 doesn’t mean I’m going to look like I’m 21.  In fact, it will probably just draw attention to the fact that I haven’t been carded in nearly that many years. I also realize that too many women fall victim to the idea that going under the knife and trading a few well earned-wrinkles for the often freakish mask of over aggressive plastic surgery isn’t going to make them look younger, it’s just going to make them look…well, freakish.

I’m talking about something more profound – that we should get to define what aging
means to us.  And it may not mean wearing Mom jeans and watching Law and Order before sensibly turning in at 9 p.m. each night.  One positive thing about getting older is that – although it may not necessarily make you wiser – if definitely makes you more open-minded.  At least it should.  Because for me – being open-minded is as close as you can come to finding a true fountain of youth.  If you are inflexible and unable to cope with change, you will age in dog years.  Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

I came about these lessons the hard way.  I nearly died when I was 19 years old.  It’s a funny thing, almost dying.  Somehow having stared death in the face doesn’t make death scary – it makes the idea of not living absolutely terrifying.  And when I say living, I don’t mean merely existing.  I mean truly living.  If I live a rich, meaningful life and die at 50 years of age, who’s to say that my life is somehow sadder than the 90 year old that dies after living a long but unfulfilled life, and who leaves a small, easily dissipated wake behind them?

I’m far from an example of the fully evolved, together woman, but I’m finally starting to accept myself – flaws and all.  In fact, I tend to think our flaws make us more interesting – sort of like Joaquin Phoenix with that sexy hair lip scar.   I have always suspected that women who profess to be self-actualized or close to it are deluding themselves, and in fact are probably more insecure than the rest of us.  They cling to the public image of perfection to deny a simple truth.  No matter what our age, we are all works in progress.  If you think you’re not, than you have ceased to be open-minded and to embrace this crazy ongoing education that is life.

So I’m okay with making mistakes.  Hopefully I’ll learn from them, but if not, I at least hope I have fun while making them.  I’m also okay taking what some might deem to be risks that only twenty-somethings should take.  I didn’t take those risks then and I wish I had.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t take them now.

It’s not over ‘till it’s over, and that’s the damn truth.  Who is to say when the time has come to settle down and live sensibly?  What if I don’t want to?  Should someone else be able to tell me that I must?  If the idea of questioning how you are living your life is too scary for you, than perhaps it’s because you are living a compromised life, one that is still in soft focus black and white, and not in HD color as it should be.

So I hope you join me on this path that we must each blaze for ourselves.  Let me be a cautionary tale and an inspiration.  Laugh with me and at me.  Take my hand and lift me up when I stumble and fall, and I will do the same for you.  Rejoice with me when I reach a milestone in my travels.  But most of all, realize that we are all in this together, and although no one is getting out alive, we can make it one hell of a journey.

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