As I was trying to clean out my email folders I came across a letter from an acquaintance that was sent last year. She is a journalist by trade and who some call a “liberal” feminist. She has strong feelings on some women’s issues and some of the inequities in our culture. She wrote this article on aging and made some of her friends as well as the group that we had belonged to feel a lot better about getting older.
She had passed it along to us in case it made us feel better… I thought I would pass it along to you…
The Wonder Of Aging – written by Isabella Mindak
As time passes I’m becoming more of an embarrassment, a disgrace, something to hide, radically change, or surgically remove and so are you. If I believe the grocery store magazines and all of the advertisements, unless I take serious steps to stop myself from aging, I will soon become a social outcast: someone to be scorned for what nature has done to me.
But while our culture keeps reminding me that I’m losing value with time, inside, I feel that I’m gaining and I’m blooming into someone more complete than I ever imagined.
I like getting older. I’ve traveled some tough terrain and there’s more to come, but I think I’ve found some precious gems in the gravel and they have made me richer.
For instance, now, I ask for what I want. I remember when I was younger, it was so important to me to appear selfless and gracious. I thought it was nicer to forget about my wants. Truth was, it was insincere. I had to learn the hard way that it was kinder to tell people what I want, than not to and then to resent them for disappointing me.
I like knowing from years of experience, that no matter how many coats, pants, shirts, and shoes I buy and no matter how many times I go to the gym, I will not be someone else. I will always be who I am and that is good enough and even better than a picture on the cover of a magazine, when I am loved.
I like knowing my shortcomings. When I was younger it was too painful for me to look at those. Now, after many years of watching my losses and gains, I’ve learned what could use some work about me. Now that I’m older, I’m not so afraid of that. I like it because I know I can only fix what I know about.
I like the humility that seems to happen with aging. When I was younger, I felt so right. I felt so defiant. Now, I know that I can be wrong because I have been, many times and that was the only way I could learn.
I like the honest kindness that comes. When I was younger I would desperately try to impress people with my confidence, my congeniality and my wit. Now, when I’m kind to people, I’m not trying to win them over. I’m just being myself. I can do that now. When I was younger I was too preoccupied with being liked to be completely interested in anyone else.
I like that I rest sometimes. When I was younger, I was always competing to have more or become more than who I was. I would push myself to exhaustion only to impress my peers. Now that I’m older, I know that the race to keep up with everyone was never real. No one else was watching my scoreboard, except me. They were all too busy watching their own.
I like knowing what makes me happy. When I was younger I didn’t have as many experiences to choose from, so it was tougher to find what was right. Now that I’m older, I’ve had more disappointments and more moments of complete joy and I think I know better how to find them both.
I like knowing that at times I don’t have the steering wheel: When I was younger I would insist that a specific path would take me to a specific place or end and it caused me a lot of stress when it didn’t. Now, I know that sometimes no matter how hard I try or what I do, life can and has driven me to a completely different destination. So I can either scream about it or look out the window and try to see something good about the ride.
When I was younger I didn’t know these things. My skin was tighter, my smile was brighter and I was radiant. But I was beginning. I was just starting to become more. I had to wait a while for time to show me who I was.
Now that I’ve made some headway, I keep hearing that I should deny my age, resist it and for God’s sake get rid of it! But I like it. I like that I’m changing. I like that my life moves forward: That forward motion assures me that I’m getting somewhere!
While the media insists that I need botox, implants, cosmetic surgery, and obsessive exercise it can seem like the world is saying that my journey doesn’t count and I must go back in time. But I don’t understand what’s so appealing about going backwards!
Tell a twenty-year old to get back into his sandbox, play like a toddler and enjoy it. Most would probably find it impossible. That’s because they’ve played in the sandbox already! What gave them pleasure then, is not what gives them pleasure now. Yet, our world is telling me to go back, look like I did and do what I’ve already done and to feel it as though it was the first time. I don’t want to do that, thanks.
The way I see it, the only firsts I’m going to have are the ones that are ahead of me. Those are new! Those are exciting and adventurous! I don’t want to go back and look like I did and do what I’ve already done. It won’t be the same, because I’m not and I think that’s great.
Let others travel backwards if they want and I wish them well. I might be left behind while my face and body changes. But, I’ll be looking forward to something that I haven’t seen or done before and to me anyway, that trip will be a lot more interesting.
In love and Light