Is there a problem with aging?
The realization of aging can bring up all sorts of things. Positive and negative. Some women seem to embrace this important life transition easily and slide easily into a seemingly preordained role of ‘wise woman’ or whatever title they care to give themselves. I only know a few of these women. Being invisible to the rest of the world doesn’t seem to faze them and I’m enormously jealous of this.
Who am I now?
Unfortunately for me, regardless of all the personal development and spiritual work I’ve done, I’m still perplexed at what I can only call a ‘disconnect’ between who I think I am and who looks at me from the mirror.
Up until about 40, I didn’t think about aging. Wasn’t on the radar, didn’t talk about it, no one mentioned it as an issue.
Then BANG. I was obsessed by it. I realised I was in it up to my neck and would drown in it if I didn’t figure out what was going on. Back then, I glossed over the bits that were showing signs of wear and tear, hoping to delay the inevitable decay. I also dropped deeply into a malaise that lasted for years and have only recently emerged a little wiser for wear.
The aging thing though is still on my mind.
We are in denial of aging. People who say they like what happens when the body starts to age are lying. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about life during old age once you’ve figured out what it all means. Once you’ve worked out how to get some semblance of control over your destiny. It takes most of your life though, to get to this point of understanding and the understanding happens to coincide with when you seriously begin to physically age. I’m sure not all of us have such a bleak outlook, but those who vehemently say they LOVE aging surely are the most enlightened among us and are breathing the oxygen of a rarefied environment.
For those of us who have made it to the ripe age of 50 and beyond and have only now awakened to what we really want from life, the realization of aging is disconcerting, to say the least. We want to have FUN and apparently all the fun happens when you are young. Unless you are a gay man, you can’t take your clothes off at a party if you are over 50. You don’t have abs and your tits are too low to be acceptable. You will feel weird (and old) if you are fully dressed and you go clubbing unless you are in a super sophisticated city where the crowd is big enough to be inclusive.
Ageism is the problem with aging
You are told you are ‘amazing for your age’ if you have any semblance of muscle on your body. You are asked quietly if you’ve had ‘work’, if your skin happens to be reasonably unwrinkled and with a glow over and above the norm. God help you if you look too healthy as then you are not really ageing normally. All of this is the underbelly of ageism.
Mind you, I’m not pissed off about ageing just because the physical decline. It’s about being cheated of our lives once we get to a certain point. Our options become limited at a certain age. The conversation about age has its own energy field and being older is often the elephant in the room.
Many of those conversations involve us having to cope with change of one sort or another and at any age change is hard. Many of us are not ‘change resilient’ as the pace of change wasn’t as fast when we were younger. We are vilified behind our backs as not being able to ‘get with the program’ because of our age, but it’s not our age that’s the problem. We are simply different from the little ones that seem to be driving the agenda when it comes to work, education, healthcare marketing and consumerism in general.
What’s the key message here?
We need to FIGHT against ageism as it is toxic and is only just starting to show its true colors. We shouldn’t have to gracefully retire to a place containing only people of a certain age. I like diversity and don’t want to be the only older person in a team of younger people. I don’t want to be the only over 50s person in a nightclub. I don’t want to live in a retirement village where there are no younger men to quietly observe as they run into the surf. Why do I have to behave differently because of my age?
What can we do to be ‘aging resilient’?
The main thing is to figure out what to do apart from plastering over the evidence and pretending to be younger than we are. Here are the things I’ve done to calm my mind and confront the aging process with a little bit of grace:
- Get SUPER FIT. Whatever it takes, get some muscle on your bones. Sarcopenia is the medical term for muscle wastage and is the scourge of aging as the level of wastage aligns with other health indicators. If you are in control of how your body looks, then you’ll feel empowered, you’ll look fantastic, you’ll be in better health and you won’t fall over and break your hip and end up in hospital.
- Get CLARITY on your life direction. If you are uncertain about what to do between now and your entry to your coffin, then focus your energies on something that is meaningful to do. Not on yourself and shopping and other diversions. Get a CAUSE and dig deep into helping others and you’ll find your life will change and will become the life of your dreams. You won’t have depression or nagging thoughts about what your life is about. You’ll be living a life of meaning.
- Find your TRIBE. Find people you truly resonate with and then co-create with them. Get a project and become part of a team to deliver that project. You’ll find that all sorts of personal issues will come up and you’ll find ways to resolve these and grown in the meantime. You’ll get out of your comfort zone and grow some more. The harder the project the more fulfilling.
- Eat a CLEAN DIET. Once you clear out the gunk caused by the artefacts we are currently eating and that are masquerading as foods, then you’ll immediately feel better. Initially this will be the hardest thing you ever do, but in the end you’ll feel like a goddess in control of the world.
- Do BREATH WORK and find a connection to your best self, the universe, God or whatever you want to call it. If you are lucky, you might start to hear whispers from afar giving you advice on how to improve your life, pointing you toward previously unthought of thoughts. This can be miraculous and if you persist long enough you’ll be able to tap into an inner world you never dreamed existed.
Aging is hard and certainly isn’t pretty. No-one likes the incessant drooping of flesh and the way our thoughts seem to escape us in the most inappropriate situations. This is the inevitable though and we need to find peace with ourselves as we move toward the inevitable. Instead of avoiding the realities we need to start talking about what this means to us as individuals and how society is not currently supportive of this important process. We need to get mad about what is going on. We need to lobby against the toxicity of ageism, if not for ourselves, then for our girls.