The hunt for the mythical Fountain of Youth didn’t die with Ponce de Leon. It’s still alive and well. Just look around. Desperate attempts to look younger are everywhere in the Boomer cohort. Lifts and tucks, mini-skirts and diets and anxiety, such anxiety.
We lament our invisibility. We transform the beauty of our youth to labels like “used to be beautiful.” Boomer blog post after blog post bemoan our status as aging adults in a youth-oriented culture.
We may be lifted and tucked, but we are not aging well. Reality bites people concerned with aging; it digs in its teeth and leaves scars. And for what?
We’re a more healthy and fit bunch in some ways, but in others? We’re a generation in denial.
The hard truth is that midlife and the years after bring a new reality and that’s something we can’t do much about, at least not at this stage of medical research.
The other day a friend my age commented that he hated the term “midlife sex.”
“Sex is just sex,” he said, “midlife or not.”
Oh, were that true for us all. It’s not.
Here’s what IS true:
Things are different at midlife. Lots of things. Maybe everything.
Why pretend it isn’t true?
If we’ve really lived, gained those badges of a life well-lived? It shows.
Our skin is no longer supple and smooth. Hair thins or disappears. We gain or lose weight. Have I mentioned varicose veins? And yes, sexual response can be very different as hormones ebb and flow at this stage of life, mostly ebbing.
This new reality seems to be hard to swallow, from all the wailing and grieving going on in our age group.
Here’s what I say:
I say many of us are spending too much time, energy and money on trying to recapture –or bemoaning—something that’s no longer available to us. And for those most part, all of those losses are superficial.
Sure, I’d like to look like I did at 30. Hell, I’d love to BE 30. But I’m not.
By all means, look good for your age. But “for your age” is the key phrase. Let’s not be afraid of it. Because the reality is that we are aging. We can age or we can die. I know which I choose.
And by the way, most of the bemoaning I hear has to do with the superficial things: how we look. Why not turn that around and focus on the wisdom we’ve gained and the ways we can share it?
Oh, you say no one’s listening? I haven’t found that to be true, not at all. Younger people still ask for my opinion. I still give it, sometimes unasked. I teach. I write. I have an audience and oh-by-the-way? So do you.
If you’ve got time to worry about stretch marks and wrinkles, well, you’re lucky. Because I know plenty of people who are concerned with how long they’ll get to draw breath at all. Or how they’re going to maintain their energy in the face of a debilitating treatment regine.
I’m not saying that appearance is unimportant, just that in the scheme of things, it’s pretty superficial. Not to mention futile.
Retain a youthful outlook. But age-appropriate is a good thing, in my opinion.
Let’s stop wasting energy on the superficial parts of aging and instead, focus on what we can contribute to the world.