Monday, April 1, 2013

Aging well

A good word rolls across your tongue, bursting with flavours sweet and sharp and strange. You want to taste it again and again, whisper it to yourself until you've sucked it dry of every nuance, its juices resting warmly in your belly.

Imagine stumbling across a graveyard of lost words, delicacies the world squirreled away and forgot to retrieve when spring came. The Phrontistery is such a place, offering delicious nuggets to savour each day on April's A-Z journey. Let's eat.


ACRASIAL (adj): Ill-regulated; ill-tempered

When I was younger, I used to look forward to being elderly. It seemed a time when I could indulge my anti-social whims with impunity, free from the tyranny of good manners and make-up. I had grand plans of driving 80 km/hr in the fast lane on the expressway, meandering through the grocery store express line with too many items, and railing against the good-for-nothing world to everyone around me.

The seniors of my limited acquaintance were relishing these perks of advanced years, so I was surprised to read a study that suggested they were an unusually acrasial bunch. According to researchers, people get happier with age. It's not a coincidence that silver hair is a rare sight in the prison yard.

Since it appears I'm unlikely to lose all sense of common courtesy and turn into a menace of society after all, that just leaves the make-up. One of the best parts of aging must be the freedom from measurement against an impossible standard of beauty. At 80, you can be considered a pin-up if you've put on matching clothes and a little lip gloss. You can enjoy a blue sky day at the beach in your bathing suit without worrying about anyone comparing you to a Victoria's Secret model.

Looking at the wreckage of my figure after two babies in the last three years, it strikes me how lucky I am that the only standard I've ever been shooting for is "reasonably attractive." After an unfortunate ugly duckling phase from age 8-17, I enjoyed a brief few years where guys actually whistled at me on the street.

But I always knew that I was no competition for the silky smooth haughty blondes stalking past me on campus and in the club. An escalating eating disorder was arrested in its tracks when I saw a girl so tiny that I knew I'd have to remove ribs to look like her. Since I don't like playing when there's no hope of winning, that was the end of my hunger headache days.

When I watch The Real Housewives of Anywhere, I feel sorry for the women trying so desperately and unsuccessfully to freeze time, with no end in sight. It must be awful to have your entire identity and self-esteem invested in an inevitably fading beauty. I'm glad I live in a world where I'm allowed to age with happiness and grace, wrinkles soft in the sun.

32 comments:

  1. I have a few stand out years: 20 and 26 come to mind, but I find that as I get older, I am more concerned with how I am living life rather than how it is affecting me. Does that make sense? My daughter tells me that even though I've got grey in my hair, I'll never be old because I continually act younger than I am. But isn't that a perk?

    As teens we struggle and try and believe that in order to be part of society we must look and act older and more mature and as a result often end up looking foolish. Whereas now, I know myself better so I am better able to take things in stride and waste less energy on trying to be something I am not!

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    1. I find it's the "knowing myself better" that makes me happier the older I get. I don't necessarily like all my traits, but I understand them and more importantly, how to cope with them.

      Your first sentence is very interesting - I will have to ponder that one.

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  2. Aging well?
    Nope, can't make that stand up.
    Frankly, it's not the ONLY thing I can't make stand up.

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    1. Haha! I may feel differently about the whole thing in 30 years.

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  3. Great way to start the challenge! You have a lovely attitude about getting older. Me? Not so much. I don't wear make-up now, and I often say things that others won't, so really all I have to look forward to is an aging body.

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    1. I have a good attitude now, while my face is still fairly recognizable and I can do all the activities I love. I'm afraid I may be less gracious in the future.

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  4. those housewives are pathetic, arent they!

    great new word! but i might need its anunciation... then it might roll off my tongue easier!

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    1. Yes, I truly feel sorry for them every time I watch any of those shows. And yet I still watch. Good point on the pronunciation - I should go back to the website and see if it gives any tips.

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  5. My mother stopped wearing makeup four years ago and is SO happy about it. Me? I'm so splotchy at 32 that I shudder to think of what that will be like for me in another 25 years...

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    1. I have no plans to stop wearing make-up! I just like the idea that I won't feel obliged to wear it anymore.

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  6. Hello
    I'm from the A-Z. It has always amazed me at the shallowness that young people must endure. But old age opens up vistas of freedom and it's wonderful.
    Manzanita
    Wanna Buy a Duck

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    1. Vistas of freedom - I like that thought!

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  7. Lovely post about aging. Good luck with the challenge! I participated last year and had a blast!

    Donna L Martin
    www.donasdays.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks! I'm a newbie and having fun so far.

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  8. Living to be a menace to society in my old age is my new goal. Thanks for that!!! :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

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    1. An excellent goal indeed! I was mildly disappointed to discover that I might not feel like being all wild and crazy in my golden years.

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  9. For a writer, I have a painfully limited vocabulary so I look forward to your posts.

    I started waitressing at 16 and always felt bad for this group of four elderly men who'd come in each Saturday. Their lives were nearing the end and with college just a couple years off mine was (finally!) about to begin. Of course, now I think of those lucky men often, and too of that young girl I used to be. I should only be so lucky to live that long and have good friends I can spend time with once a week!

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    1. So true. My Opa had a group of coffee house friends like that - they would get together every week and play the fiddle and sing. Sounds good to me.

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  10. Great post. Aging is something we all have to do. So I am happy for these words of wisdom.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month.

    --
    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side and The Witch
    Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

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    1. It's a necessary evil, so we might as well try to accept it with some dignity.

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  11. I always think of getting older as a privilege. That's b/c I beat cancer in my 30s. How can I complain when others in my situation don't get to age?

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    1. That's the perspective we all need. Beautiful.

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  12. As someone who is aging (I hope well) I enjoyed your post. Hope you'll visit back.

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  13. Very Cool! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z Challenge" and I look forward to visiting again!

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for joining up. I'm a little behind but hoping to get ahead on my posts this week so I can visit everyone - meeting new people is the best part of challenges like this.

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  14. It always saddens me to see women working so hard to look a certain way that they forget to develop who they are.

    Dropping by from A to Z. This is my first year. So exciting.

    Brett Minor
    Transformed Nonconformist

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    1. Exactly. I have a healthy dose of vanity, but hopefully not at the expense of a sparkling personality (*preen*).

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  15. I am doing a bible study in where we write down our blessings. One of them was "thankful for the winkles that remind me to teasure life as is in the moment because it is all fading"

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    1. This statement struck me as sad - I hate thinking about the "all fading" part.

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  16. This was a great post - and I am so with you. I am getting grey hairs now and I don't mind at all. I don't really love the idea of getting really old, but nor does it worry me the way it does some of my friends. Knowing 25 year olds (I'm nearly 33) who are already heavily into collagen and all that is really quite sad.

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    1. I don't think most of that stuff makes the person look younger either. They just look all scary and plasticky.

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Lend me some sugar!