Aging gracefully is a myth.
Perpetrated by cosmetic hucksters and mega-vitamin pushers, it falls into the same category of lies as “I’m 80 now, and looking back, I have no regrets,” or “These? Honey, they’re all mine!”
Indeed, even the phrase “aging gracefully” is bogus. Like military intelligence, airline food, soft rock, California culture and sanitary landfill, it’s an oxymoron, born of wistful longing.
Don’t you think that once you’ve admitted to age 60, it’s time to kiss such vanity goodbye? After all, one of the perks of seniordom is never again fretting about what people think about you, your looks, or your actions.
To be the person you truly are – without mirrors, pretext, or apology – is truly worth the price of growing old. For many of us, this is the first time we can comfortably embrace ourselves since that shattering moment long ago when others pointed out that we weren’t OK just the way we were.
And we acquiesced. What a mistake that was!
Conform. Or Else!
Remember all those pimply years of trying on personas like T-shirts, then discarding them at the first hint of criticism. If one personality, one look or fashion didn’t fit, we’d try another.
Few of our generation sported pink hair and multiple skin piercings, but we were no less silly in our conformity. Marrying right out of school, we were supposed to have kids, supposed to buy the suburban home, supposed to fit into that grey flannel suit without any tailoring. One size fit all back in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
What’s amazing is that we kept intact as much of ourselves as we did.
Now, suddenly senior, we can be who we really are. And damn the torpedoes.
Take my buddy, J.C. Spitznagel. He loves women. Always has. Just looking at a smiling woman of any age makes J.C.’s day.
Unfortunately, his tendency to stare and gape drove wives mad. Especially his. He went through five of them.
He changed jobs a lot, too. Companies frown on employees staring open-mouthed at attractive females. Especially on new-business calls! Oh, the poor guy tried to change, once even taking work as a waiter at a Chicago men’s club where women weren’t allowed.
The deprivation darn near killed him.
Now retired and a confirmed bachelor, J.C. is today, as his friends proudly point out, “a dirty old man of the first order,” He’s learned that beautiful women love the attention.
Remember George Burns after Gracie? That’s J.C., finally being true to himself. Not bad work for an old coot. If there’s a positive meaning to “aging gracefully,” maybe he epitomizes it.
Aging Gracefully? Boring!
I know what aging gracefully isn’t. It isn’t folks of a certain age – yours and mine – who still worry about what the neighbors think. Or anyone else, for that matter.
Lucky for humankind, most of us let go of such vanity years ago when it became too much trouble to look or be any different that we really are.
Let’s face it, getting old is tough enough. Pretending we’re something we’re not makes it even harder. By our age, most of us have found the wisdom to know who we truly are.
For those who haven’t, a suggestion: Learn to enjoy and appreciate your uniqueness, that which makes you you. And if it upsets others, what do they know? Chances are, you’ve been around longer than they have, you’re wiser than they are, and you’re far more comfortable in your own skin than they are in theirs.
Doctors advise, “Lighten up and live longer.” After all, there’s not one shred of evidence supporting the notion that life is serious. My motto: Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.
And if someone says that you’re aging gracefully, stop it at once!
YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT AGING GRACEFULLY IF YOU ARE…
- Very good at opening childproof caps with a hammer.
- Unusually interested in going back home before you get to where you’re going.
- The first one to find the bathroom wherever you go.
- Smiling all the time because you can’t hear a word anyone’s saying.
- Aware that other people’s grandchildren are not as bright as yours.
- Don’t like traffic, waiting, crowds, children, politicians and most other people. And you don’t mind anyone about it either.
- Certain they are making adults much younger these days.
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