The world in which we live has long worshiped youth. Movies starring young and vital actors and actresses, incredibly fit and beautiful, represent everything that we want to be. On the TV we are bombarded with 20ish women carefully treating their skin to fight the effects of aging (as if 20ish year old skin has even BEGUN to age). And advertising in general is built around beautiful, youthful, still-wet-behind-the-ears individuals with perfect white teeth and convincing smiles.
It is no wonder that there is an incredibly receptive market for anti-aging offerings. Everything from salves and ointments to pills and poultices offer the promise of delaying the appearance of aging and extending our youthfulness. Some of the things we willingly put onto our faces and bodies would cause a sane person to wrinkle their nose and head for the door! But we want to look younger than we really are and will try almost anything. And you can bet that these “solutions” are not cheap with anti-aging products ranging from $100 to thousands of dollars. Is it money well spent?
Watching a recent Dr Oz show which focused on anti-aging solutions, the topic of facial masks came up and various options were evaluated. In the end, we learned that Milk of Magnesia has all of the working ingredients that provide the best results and at a cost of about $6 per bottle. Makes you think a bit…
As the old ad used to say, “a little dab will do you” and if using these potions makes us feel better and we can afford them, what is the real harm? Is there anything wrong with our obsession to look young?
I think the answer is yes. I believe that the real harm is fostering the current perception that young is cool and old not so much. Aging is not about wrinkles in our skin, it is about our growth as individuals, our life experiences, our contributions to the world in which we live, and raising families to be proud of who will ultimately take us into the future. With age comes wisdom and through the myriad of life’s experiences, we learn what to do and most importantly what not to do again. This experience is incredibly valuable to ourselves and our personal growth but even more so to those around us who are “too young” to know better. None of this growth happens quickly or easily – all require time and effort, trial and error, success and failure. And guess what – aging is one universal that applies across EVERYONE no matter what race or color or creed. We need to accept this fact and truly make the best of it. Avoidance is not an option, acceptance is the way. It is time to be proud of our wrinkles, our character lines as mom always said. At our age, we have earned every one of them!
James Hillman in his book “The force of character and the lasting life” addresses what he calls the force of the face, claiming that “older faces are marked by character, that their beauty reveals character, and that their lasting power as images of intelligence, authority, tragedy, courage, and depth of soul is due to character. The absence of these qualities in contemporary society and its public figures is due to the falsification of the older face on public view.”
One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them ~ Virginia Wolfe
Appreciate Your Aging – Stay Young on the Inside
There are no magic elixirs to return those youthful rosy cheeks and tight chins, but that does not mean we should not live retirement to the most. Our outside is not what we are about but instead, just like an Oreo cookie, the best is inside. And the reality is that if we feel good on the inside, we will look good on the outside. People respond to positive vibes so tune up and turn it on.
Attitude – it is essential for our sanity to accept the fact that aging is a part of life. Over the years, our bodies are being used and used up and the results cannot be disguised indefinitely. When we look in the mirror and see that face that is so unfamiliar compared to memories of our earlier years, accept it. This is my face – some people will like it and some will not but it is my face and I will live with it! I have earned these wrinkles and I will wear them proudly. Woe to you of youthful smooth faces who have not yet earned such distinguished badges of courage.
Participate versus observe – live life rather than watch life go by – how many times have you heard that age is a state of mind? I have seen 80 year old women in Switzerland heading up steep mountains for their daily activity. They may not look as spritely as they did at 25 but I would not want to try to keep up with them and their mountain-climbing-pace. We read regularly stories of amazing physical feats performed by the elderly. I believe that with medical advancements extending average lifetimes and seniors living more active retirement lives, what was perceived as “amazing” twenty years ago is going to become common place. This is our time to do as Mr. Spock said, “live long and prosper”.
Make a positive impact – no one has time or is interested in humoring an old grouch. Complaining and finding the negative in everything is not how senior citizens want to be characterized. Do not fall into the trap of negativity. A smile on our face goes much farther than a growl. Active involvement in discussions brings us closer to those around us. We all WANT to be with intelligent, engaged, positive people no matter what their age. Who would not prefer hanging around someone who makes them laugh versus someone who makes them cry?
Exercise and diet always play an important role in how we look and feel. Regular, safe, interesting activity is a must. And we know what we should be eating to make ourselves healthy inside and out.
Appreciate aging and be thankful for all that we have become over our extended years. The smooth-skinned crowd have a long road ahead and changes along the way may not all be to their liking. We however have arrived safely and intact. If the price of the journey is a few wrinkles, don’t you think it a fair exchange?