I think I’ve figured out why old people talk so much about their aches and pains and bodily functions. It’s because, no matter how long they’ve been dealing with those aches and pains, they’re surprised by the effects aging has on their bodies. I’ve come to this conclusion because I, too, am surprised by it and find myself enthusiastically joining in on such conversations. Followed by a good laugh at myself.
Why am I thinking about aging? Last Saturday was my birthday…a big one, ending in a zero. Something-zero birthdays always feel momentous, though looking back they rarely are. They represent an entire decade of life, one more wedge of pie served up and eaten, leaving less for the future. Sometimes I worry about not having enough pie left to accomplish and contribute all I want.
People like to say, “You’re only as old as you feel.” If that’s true, I am eight and fifteen and thirty-one and fifty; I am young and old, ageless and weather-beaten, all wound up like a ribbon of many colors. Sometimes I feel old because my body is stiff and aches, and other times it forgets itself for a moment and lets me dance as though time were never an issue. But I’m always surprised when I look in the mirror. That woman with the sagging, wrinkled skin and graying hair cannot possibly be me! I’m surprised to feel limited by my body at all. And yet, it’s true — the body does wear down little by little, and no cliché can change that fact.
This quote of Doris Lessing’s probably says it better: “The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eight years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” True, whether you’re forty or fifty or sixty.
Of course, as Maurice Chevalier famously said, “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”
[Tweet “What does aging mean for a writer?”]
So what does aging mean for a writer? It means you feel a sense of urgency to get it all down on paper. It means you look forward to having more time to write while worrying that it will take you longer to do so. It means hoping that writing will keep your mind sharp and fearing that you mind will not stay sharp enough to do the writing. It means being grateful for every day you are able to work. It means you laugh at yourself much more often. And finally, it means you have another topic to write about — aging! What fun.
- How are you experiencing the aging process and what does aging mean for you?
- What hopes and joys does the idea of getting older bring to you?
- What fears?
- Complete the following sentences:
I know I’m not old yet because …
I know I’m older because …
Don’t be shy! Share your thoughts on this topic.