Finding balance in the second half of life

This Age Is My Age

In Survival on March 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I’ve always liked the idea of aging naturally. I wasn’t going to dye my hair or get a facelift or even wear anything more than a light foundation on my face. Then I started aging and saw (once I put on my reading glasses) what aging naturally actually looked like.

News flash: It does not look like Lauren Hutton–older, sure, but still attractive. Instead it looks like my older brother (around the eyes) and my mother (everywhere else).

And that’s just the beginning. I’ve exercised and eaten right my entire life; now suddenly, it does no good. I run for a tennis ball and I feel my buttocks galumphing along behind me, trying to keep up.  (While absolutely true, this is puzzling, since I don’t really have buttocks; they have sunk into my thighs.) My good genes are failing me.

My sister, who recently attended a conference on aging, says the problem is not with my genes but with my thinking. She says  the body knows it’s on a journey. As we age, every part of us is being pulled down by gravity, closer to the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That sort of thing. Sags, wrinkles, heavy-lidded eyes are all signposts along the journey. I don’t like the signposts. I don’t like them at all.

The most I can muster at the moment is a grudging respect for them and their potential to make me a better person. Henry Nouwen wrote, “every time there are losses there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper.”

I want to be that person who chooses the losses I experience to be passages to something new.  I want to embrace this stage, or at least accept it. But there is still a part of me that thinks why not do whatever you can to look younger? Our society values youth. Age, not so much.

I have a friend who is a doctor. One of the things she enjoys most is doing botox because it makes patients so happy. “I can fix those,” she said, not unkindly, pointing at the worry furrows between my eyebrows. I told her I wanted to age naturally, which I thought was going to be the same thing as aging gracefully. My friend, who is a nonconformist, laughed and said, “I had a lot of angst about whether to dye my hair and then when I finally did it, I realized, ‘Oh, it’s just hair.’ It’s the same way with botox. They are just wrinkles.”

Maybe they are just wrinkles. But for me it’s a slippery slope. If I look younger, I could easily fall into believing that I am younger. If I run a half marathon, I might think I’m literally outrunning death. Lots of people do.  With plastic surgery, botox, tummy tuck, and butt lift, I never have to look my age.  I can deny I’m aging at all and I can put off doing the hard emotional work of coming to terms with death. As  much as I despise them, I need those signposts. But my furrows are not yet deep, and with age comes this wisdom: Never say never.

Christine MacLean is a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, and writer living in Holland, Michigan. She was the editor of Jugglezine.com, an ezine about balancing work and life, for the 12 years it existed.

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  1. So true, so true. Seems like the issue is not so much the actions you take, but the delusions or hopes you have about the action.

  2. […] me. She must wonder at my lack of circumspection as I write books where characters swear and blog posts that offer up my insecurities. But I long for connection. Perhaps it’s the very lack of real connection with my mother that […]

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