Of course, I realize I’m mortal and therefore not immune to the inevitabilities of aging, but I suppose I didn’t expect to experience the “side effects” so soon. Several years ago, I remember a coworker telling me that after age 50, her whole body started to fall apart. For some reason, I didn’t think that would happen to me—at least not until age 70 or so.
When, at age 45, I started to experience thinning and unmanageable hair, a suddenly “softer” body, and drier, saggier skin—among other affronts—I was startled. I panicked and bought age-decelerating skin care creams and age-defying shampoo and conditioner (spoiler alert: they don’t do much). I got all wrapped up in my altered appearance and sidelined by sadness and negativity. Looking older on the outside started to seep into my pores, affecting how I felt on the inside. I started feeling and acting like a scrooge: cranky and morose.
Of course, I realize that growing old is a blessing, especially since the alternative is grave.
It wasn’t until I started researching aging for an article I’m writing that I realized how far my attitude had gone astray. I was focusing on the outer aspects of myself—those that don’t really matter—rather than the inner aspects. I was being petty, darn it, and I hate petty! Thank goodness I came across these quotes, which brought me back to my senses:
“Aging isn’t youth lost but a new stage of opportunity.” –Betty Friedan
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” –Sophia Loren
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” –Mark Twain
I feel much better now. Those who have aged gracefully are helping me age gratefully. Within the term “growing older,” the operative word is “growing.”