Refelctions on Aging (or This is Getting Old)

Happy birthday to me, feliz cumpeanos a mi!  I love the birthday greetings I have gotten on Facebook today.  But I have noticed a trend:  some of the men have wished me happy twenty five, happy thirty nine… wink, wink.  Do they think this is a compliment?  Although I have been tempted at times to lie about my age on dating sites, I remain honest about the years I have been blessed with, forty nine as of today.

And although it’s nice to hear that I don’t look my age, I don’t live for these accolades.  I have known people who do.  I would loathe hearing someone tell an old friend of mine that he didn’t look his fifty – plus years, because he would brag about it for hours. He would often jokingly claim he was in his early forties, even thirties.  Gently, I reminded him about his father, who died young, and a treasured brother who passed away before the age of forty. 

“Celebrate the years you have been gifted with!  Not everyone is so lucky!’  I’d tell him.  But he liked being taken for younger; he kept up his denial.  He just didn’t get it.

It’s a precarious thing, trying to balance the cultural celebration of youth in the United States (especially) with the inevitable march of time.  Age is not valued in our culture.  We try to look younger, to deny the aging process.  We try to build that six pack, dye the grey hair, smear on the wrinkle cream, all to scream in the face of impending doom, “I’m not done being young!”   I must admit I am guilty of some of these facades myself.

But what I have come to realize is that it doesn’t really matter.  We age anyway.  It’s nice in some ways and it sucks in others.  We get to keep growing and learning and we take up the perspective of someone who knows the value of the gift of time.  We lose friends to cancer, to accidents, to medical malfunction, to things we just can’t understand.  They’re here then they’re gone.  And we remain.  Our knees creak when we get up from the yoga mat.  We want to go to bed by eight some nights; other nights we’re still cranking at two AM.  Sometimes we can’t sleep.  Sometimes we can, but we have to wake up twice to pee.  Lost loved ones visit our dreams.  We do the things we have always wanted to do because we might not get a tomorrow.

It’s okay to want to look good and to be fit.  But these desires are better served when they come from a commitment to maintaining a strong healthy body, not for superficial reasons like making other people think we are still “young.”  Aging is humbling.  I used to flirt with twenty-something men just for fun, now I skip the flirting and just try to have a real conversation.  And since I have realized I am an old man magnet (for some reason that I don’t understand!) I treat them with compassion.  We’re all human, and we’re all beautiful.  If you’re spending all your time in front of the mirror convincing yourself that you look pretty good for your age, you are missing time getting out there and living.

It’s the connections we make with each other that make life worth living, not the surface impression people get.  Who cares?  As an ex-stripper, it’s taken me a very long time not to want to walk into a room and turn all the men’s heads.  I’ve let it go.  Sometimes they still turn, and sometimes they don’t, and who cares?  As I learned the hard way, if someone is relating to you on only the physical level, they aren’t really having a relationship with you – who you are as a person, what’s in your heart and soul.

Might as well just get out of the way and let them figure it out, if ever, much later.  Anyway, it’s not a good idea to stand between them and the mirror.

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About catnipkiss

I am a writer who is working on a travel memoir. I write about issues that speak to my soul: love, sex, yoga, spirituality, body image, dating and friendship, and more as it comes up! I love comments - thanks! What would YOU like to explore?
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13 Responses to Refelctions on Aging (or This is Getting Old)

  1. soundhealshh says:

    Great last line! So true, so true!!
    Christina

    • catnipkiss says:

      Thank you kind stranger! Whatever I’m looking for in a partner, I hope to find someone with some spiritual depth this time (and someone obsessed with his own physical image should be a BIG clue to run the other way!) See, I’m learning! By the time I hit 102 I should have it about right!

  2. harriet bissell says:

    How about ‘you’re very kind and compassionate for being the age you are’…..Now THAT is a real compliment! It seems that Europeans have always been better about valuing the qualities that come with a few years on the planet. Wonder about lthe South Americans????

    • catnipkiss says:

      in South America I have met lots of younger people and interacted with them freely. I don’t know if they respect me more for my advancing years 🙂 or not, because I don’t ask!

  3. cris says:

    its both ways, in spain if you say you are forty and hanging out w 30 sthing they think you are nuts…i think one mustnt care about age, one must feel life…if you feel young and can hang w 30 sthing, do so. if youre 40 and want to just do 40 sthing stufff its ok too
    at the end of the day, it is how you feel in your heart, for its the moments we count w the people we encounter, not the age!
    life is a lesson and journey is the vein, so live it up no matter how many years youve been blessed!

    • catnipkiss says:

      Yes, of course it is about feeling comfortable with where you are. More and more I am aware of my many blessings, and I try to count them every day. I’m still on the path of acceptance, but I feel I’m on my way. My travel year and the WONDERFUL people I have met along the way have helped me know what is really important!

  4. Kye Sangha says:

    Age is so much a reflection of our attitude towards it. I’ve met people in their 90’s doing more than people in their 50’s-because they refused to use age as an excuse to “grow old” Our knees might go south (along with other things) but that’s no excuse to stop living!
    Also (sorry this is getting long) those actresses who don’t grow old-they scare me! I look at them and feel sorrow for them, lost in that world where a woman, to be beautiful, must be wrinkle-free. What a horrible way to live!

    • catnipkiss says:

      And given good health 🙂 we can use our bodies wisely and appreciate the beauty of them, not in the superficial way, but the inconceivable complexity of how everything works together. It blows my mind! I’m determined to never let superficial things interfere with my REAL beauty ever again (but it’s a struggle, she says as she squeezes her muffintop, scowling!!!)

  5. saranac2000 says:

    i must admit, i didn’t manage to read all of the responses, for primarily personal & difficult reasons…my darling dad passed just this summer, entirely unexpectedly, due to an undiagnosed genetic condition….HOWEVER….at the age of 61, he fully endorsed, & proclaimed his belief in being “mostly twelve”, and NEVER did he EVER succumb to the belief that he was ‘aging’….he worked a fully ‘athletic’ sort of job, one that none within his company could ever actually duplicate…and i am entirely sure that much of his longevity was fully based upon his own beliefs about health, wellness, etc……and, ironically, this comes from a 2-pack a day smoker, who took vitamins RELIGIOUSLY, ate full fat foods, and believed that ANY skim, or low-fat, milk in the refrigerator was bent on sucking the full fat out of his whole milk…ugghhhh!!!

    approximately 6 weeks before his passing, my father was out in the back yard, throwing, catching, & ‘hacking’ around w/me, as we did in BOTH of our “younger years”….perhaps because of my father, i see myself, and all of us, as people who can do whatever we wish, within our minds, as well as with our bodies, depending upon what we see possible!!!!!

    • catnipkiss says:

      Hi Sara – thanks for writing! It sounds like your dad was an AMAZING person! I just read a quote: “Just because they die doesn’t mean they leave us” – your dad will always be a part of you and I hope you can embody the joy of life that was (and is!) a part of his spirit. In a recent meditation session the leader said our bodies are temporary but our souls are eternal, and this really spoke to me about the impermanence of our current earthly existence – one more reason to live fully in joy and gratitude! Good luck in your journey of healing; it takes time but your sorrow speaks to the impact that your dad had on your life (and will continue to have). Wishing you peace! – C.

  6. I like this. I’m not quite as wise as you, admittedly. I turned 40 in October and it’s not the age that bothers me as much as the sense of vanishing–or feeling like I am. Aside from the physical, as a guy, I think there’s also the sense of not accomplishing, not arriving yet that bothers me most.

    I actually wrote a story about this one. This isn’t me trying to self-promote. Just sharing a fiction that captures my sense of aging–my not-very-wise sense of it.

    here’s the link, if you like:
    http://thehistoryofthings.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/the-vanishing-story-31/

    best,
    g. aka Mr. Unicorn
    circularrunning.wordpress.com/

    • catnipkiss says:

      Hi again Unicorn 🙂 – I will definitely read that; thanks! I think aging can be very different for men; you guys have different issues that have to do with accomplishments and career. Admittedly, many women have the same, but I think raising children and releasing them into the world gives us more of a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment (since they grow from our bodies, the connection is fairly intense!) For me, it’s just been recently that I have realized a lot of this. yoga and reflection on life has helped;also breaking up with a very superficial man (though I loved him very much)- all the things that happen in life sometimes make us wake up a bit and look at what really matters….. that’s where I’m at now. Trying to get back to what really matters! And thanks for reading!

  7. catnipkiss says:

    Reblogged this on Pre-Exisiting Condition and commented:

    Having just had another birthday, I thought I would post this again 🙂

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