|Photo by pedtrosimoes7.|
Part of my drive comes from the fact that my husband is years younger than I and my children are young enough to be my grand kids. I was a late-launching adult who postponed her adolescence well into my 30s.
Fighting the Good Fight
I'm eating kale, sardines and low-fat dairy. I'm walking an hour in the morning and then going to the gym in the evening and cycling through the routine du jour: cardio, stretching or strength training.
I switched careers so that I could make healthy aging my vocation. I spend 4 to 6 hours every day teaching classes in aging studies or writing blog posts about aging.
|Photo by edwick|
I'm watching every film I can find about dealing with age-related challenges so that I can build a strategy on how to fend off this formidable foe. And I'm reading less fiction about exploring imaginary worlds and more nonfiction about managing age-related assaults to my finances, body, psyche, soul and social standing.
I've been to the dermatologist to remove skin tags, the optometrist to be fitted for bifocals, the salon to cover my gray, the D.O. to realign my lower back, and the physical therapist to manage an old war injury to my hip. I make regular stops at Goodwill to invigorate my wardrobe with fashion that will draw attention away from my wrinkles and my sagging flesh.
Resigning Myself to the Aging Process
|Photo by Portobeseno|
Mind over matter only works for so long. The constant pain in my right hip informs me that I do have limits.
I have spent two years enraged about my injury and fierce in my efforts to overcome my limitations. But now that all my efforts to control the pain with diet and exercise are failing me, I'm looking around for a white flag to raise.
Am I weak? Am I a quitter? But what can I do but cry "Uncle" when Father Time has his boot on my throat. I am seeing a line between fighting the good fight and vain attempts to postpone the inevitable. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
And I've noticed that the mainstream media and social media gives more attention to these messages:
- Age is just a number.
- You can defeat the effects of aging.
- You will be the statistical anomaly.
- Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
But the emperor has no clothes. And I can see that he's got a pretty wrinkled and flaccid physique. But there are hordes of people insisting it's not true. If I dare speak this truth, I get shouted down with frenetic cries, "It's not true! We can fight Father Time and win!" And for the majority of the time, I'm one of the biggest deniers.
But in the middle of the night when no other task is distracting me from the pain in my hip, I see an invitation to stand down in my nonstop battle against aging.
I don't like the word surrender. Or the word resignation. Can I find a more dignified way to acquiesce?
Be a Lover not a Fighter
My fatigue and my futility suggest that I make some concession to Father Time. In order to preserve my sanity and to better spend my waning energy, I need to another approach to facing age-related challenges:
I should spend some time making peace with the aging process.
I need to look more for the subtle joys of aging and embrace them. I need to starting ask these questions:
- How can I redefine success beyond finishing my "To Do" list?
- How can I pass some batons to the generation below me?
- How can I accept my physical limitations?
- How can I move past acceptance to actually celebrate aging?
- How can I focus on character more than achievement?
- How can I find value in stillness?
Jungian archetype theory also describes the third stage of a woman's life as the crone stage. Modern society often devalues older women when there are real strengths to being fully ripe. One current cultural icon of the crone includes Prof. McGonagal from the Harry Potter series. She's intelligent, wise, prudent, discerning. Yes, she has wrinkles, but she uses her life experience implied by those wrinkles to instruct youth and fight evil.
In addition, Zen Buddhist meditations help me understand that attachment leads to suffering, including being attached to earlier life stages and a body that has left the building several years ago.
Another good strategy for accepting my age? Maintaining relationships with people who are 10, 20, 30 and 40 years older than I am.
|Photo by calliope_muse|
If I'm going to travel down that path, I might as well learn to relax and enjoy the journey.
I'm not quite ready to meditate on my final hours, but I did find this wonderful post by Stephen McPhee on the Over 65 Blog about surrender and late life which contains some of the same ideas about accepting my present condition as I move through midlife to the next stage.