Monday, 1 July 2013

On growing old .... the only way to avoid it and wrinkles is to die young.

Growing older is a skill which takes commitment and practice if one is to do it well and become the best that one can be as the years pass, continuing to grow, as opposed to shrinking into the smallest (safest?) parts of Self as so many do.

From observation I have formed the view that many people as they grow older, become more rigid in their habits and views, locking themselves away in essence, into ways which give some illusion of control. This is hardly surprising given that age brings with it greater uncertainty and experiences of less control; but it is not healthy and rarely leads to someone expressing or becoming the best they might be.

If nature demands that we 'loosen up' in a physical sense and 'soften' in appearance and form, then it is highly unlikely that what nature requires is that we 'harden' emotionally or psychologically. And yet this is what so many do; or rather, what so many either allow to happen or create.

Growing older demands that we experiment with less form,  not more; less control, not more; less rigidity of opinion or habit, not more - in other words, it calls upon us to practise trust, acceptance and flexibility for these are the skills I am sure which death demands if we are to pass from this world to the next as easily and harmoniously as possible.

It is ironic that we live in a youth-obsessed age when, if one lives to a reasonable age, as most can expect, say 85, the majority of one's life will be spent as an adult who is not 'young' per se: or 'young' as society defines it.

If we take adulthood as 18, then we have say 20 years before our body will begin to register what we see as signs of aging, although there are individual differences in that process.

That means we will have 50 years, half a century and perhaps more, living as someone who is 'not young,' and continuing to see physical evidence as we grow into our mature selves; as women, our Crone selves.

It is yet another reason to have children in your twenties or thirties because age can bring with it, not as an absolute but as a possible, less energy and having and raising children requires energy. It is nothing to have weeks of sleepless nights and demands 24/7 when we are in our twenties or even thirties, but the situation changes for most once they get into their forties in many ways.

Fertility declines in both men and women from the thirties; of course there are exceptions but it remains a factor. In a youth-obsessed society we have begun to indulge in denial that it doesn't matter when we have children and a reliance on a procedure, IVF, which will remain truly unproven for at least three generations.
So, having children naturally and having them young is wiser if it can be done. What many people today do is ignore the reality of the numbers. Have a child at 25 and you will be 45 or so when they are off your hands, and, depending on their lives and destiny, a grandparent sometime between the age of 50, if they have a child at the same age, or 65 if they leave it later, as so many do.

However, if you have a child at 35, you will be getting them off your hands at the age of 55; probably within the menopausal phase, where your parents are in their seventies, eighties or nineties depending on when they had you, and, if they have children young, you will be a grandparent somewhere between the age of 60 or 80.

If you have a child at 40 and they have a child at 40 you will be a grandparent in your eighties. Let's just say, in a world where mostly both parents work and the help and support of grandparents is vital if not crucial, being in your sixties is, for most, better than being in your eighties. When it comes to age, numbers matter more than wrinkles.

Even if we have the luck or the genes to remain looking 'youthful' or 'beautiful for our age,' we will still carry the signs of age and not look as that which is defined as 'young and beautiful,' beyond 50. So, at best, we will have 35 years as an someone who is not 'young and beautiful,' although we may well be beautiful, the young will have long passed.

So whether it is 35 years or 50 years, depending on how kindly the years treat us, we will spend most of our lives as 'not young,' or, as the young will see us and society might label us, 'old.'

Deciding who we want to be and how we want to be during these years is probably the most important thing we will ever do, for living the years as 'not young' when there is less time ahead than there is behind; when some dreams whether of people or profession or just life become less likely; and when it becomes harder to deny the reality of aging, which of course walks hand in hand with mortality, is not easy unless we can bring full acceptance to this irrefutable fact of life and embrace all that it brings.

The more we know who we are and the more we can enjoy all we become as the years pass, the better our life will be lived and the greater our contribution to Self and others.

Logic suggests, that given we will spend most of our life in this phase, we should put our focus on it sooner, not later. In a youth-obsessed world that is hard to do and harder for women than for men because of the hold which patriarchy and sexism still have on cultures, but, the stark reality is that there is only one way to avoid getting wrinkled and getting old and that is to die.

'Dying' to Self and Ego and physicality is a much better alternative and makes for a life well lived no matter what age we may be.

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