Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gracefully Growing Old

This is an article that applies to everyone that is one day older than the day before. In short, a person that is still alive. All humans are in “the process of growing old.” The interesting thing, however, is that we all handle this process differently. Most of us try to fight it as much as we can through cosmetic surgeries, hair transplants, wigs, age-fighting cosmetics and we work out physically to stave off the eventual fact of death and preserve our present condition as long as possible. One seldom meets another that (overtly) expedites the aging process. How many advertisements are there touting how to make one look 40 years older?

When one comes across a distant acquaintance, we notice their age. We see their differences and tend to gloss over it with trite comments such as, “…you haven’t changed since the last time we met 30 years ago…,” knowing that this is totally untrue. We tend to think nothing about how our looks have changed. Right. We mused about the past times, continually avoiding the time factor. Some people age very gracefully, keep in good shape and seem to be blessed with a youthful appearance. Others, however, are not so blessed and the age-machine is evidenced everywhere!

Growing to a “ripe” age is, in fact, something of a gift that we fight versus embrace. Some people don’t have this luxury and are required to leave this planet early on in life (maybe they are the lucky ones…another topic altogether).

So the challenge is to “age gracefully.” The challenge is “how?”

We’ve all been to bars, events, parties or get-togethers where we’ve seen someone trying to fit into an age group to which they clearly do not belong. Another way to witness this is to periodically tune into a PBS channel and watch some 60 rock band try and do their songs as if they were only in their 20s. Their voices strain, their hair may be gone or gray, protruding bellies that were once flat and hard and (depending on the amount of cosmetic surgery) the tell-tale wrinkles in their complexion give their age away. Now I’m not knocking these people. I actually think it’s quite nice to see that they can still do their thing. Mick Jagger is a prime example of this! But even Mick acknowledges his age and has toned down his act to accommodate one to more closely align with his age. Paul McCartney’s music is now a different genre. How many people would buy rap music by Phil Collins? Isn’t it neat that James Taylor, that obviously could have purchased a hair transplant, didn’t? I saw Richie Furay on TV the other day and his once long brown pony tail is now quite gray. While you can still hear roots of POCO, he’s tuned his music to his age. It’s nice when the pro athletes kinda step aside for the younger rookies. What aging brilliance!

We all know of examples on the other extreme as well. Will Dolly Parton ever be over 40? And who knows what about Kenny Rogers! The point here is a simple one. Growing old is a blessing. How we grow old should be a graceful process, one that embraces our age, builds a foundation of experience and wisdom and responds to nature in natural ways. If you can afford the cosmetic investments, more power to you! Keeping fit physically is our responsibility and we all should endeavor to have some fitness and dietary programs that we adhere to. As we grow old, our minds also need to be “seasoned” accordingly, not trying to be something we were in another age. There’s nothing wrong in “acting your age!” This is not simply a statement to fling at your adolescent who is trying to figure out whether she/he is an adult or a kid. It actually could be a mantra, tuning us to gracefully approach the aging process in a “mature” way. We should respect our age like a fine wine; the older, the smoother! I think I’ll put on my 1970 POCO album!

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