Do I want to waste my sixties trying to pretend I’m still young, a slave of the anti-aging bias in our society? Should I seize on every “youth pill,” miracle cream, and procedure that claims to erase the marks of age, the toll of time, and prolong my youth? Do I see aging as a shameful process? Answer: NO.
On the other hand, do I want to “wallow” in the aging process, convinced that choosing stylish clothes or appropriate make-up, and busying myself with numerous activities, is a betrayal of the natural, inevitable process of deterioration that I should acknowledge, and even embrace? Does any attempt to maintain an attractive demeanor mean I’ve rejected the notion that the next stage of life can be as fulfilling as middle age? Answer: NO.
Clearly, there is a middle ground. Here is my beginning prescription for rational aging:
1. Once and for all, put aside the illusion that you can re-claim your youth. It’s gone.
2. “Still” is not a dirty word. Don’t take umbrage if someone adds the qualifier, still. As in: “She is still playing tennis at 69.” He is still working in his architecture firm at 72.” “She still can make a compelling argument about gun control.”
3. Women and men can look attractive right up through the triple digits. Just avoid thinking “cute,” “sexy” or “hot.” Think “attractive,”“put-together,” well-groomed,” “tastefully dressed,” “handsome” or, dare I say it, “beautiful.” (Even if you are worried that people are adding a silent “For her age” to every compliment.)
4. Avoid spending too many days in pajamas and velour track suits, reading junk novels (though acknowledging that it can be fun to do this once in a while.) It’s not good for you, on a regular basis, even if you are embracing the aging process.
5. You can stay active, strong, and fit at any age. Zumba, Yoga, Curves, walking…it’s all good.
6. Have convictions and express them, but graciously tolerate opposing points of view
7. Learn new skills (foreign language, calligraphy, playing the recorder) where you can see progress and share your new found skill with others.
I’m sure I’ll come up with lots more to add to my prescription. I’m open to (reasonable) suggestions!