Monday, September 15, 2008

On growing old (reposted)

Hanging Bridge at Eden Nature Park

A girlfriend was ranting about her job at dinner the other night, and said that she feels tired and old while smoothing away her imaginary wrinkles. I commiserated with her, and half-jokingly plotted to beat up her Korean boss.

It made me wonder afterwards if "feeling old" is synonymous with maturity. Is it when we mature that we start to feel old, or the other way around? I "felt old" at 14 after my father died, while my family started to remind me that I’m getting old at 35, harping on my ticking biological clock…tik-tak-tik-tak.

It used to irritate me, the constant reminder about my biological clock---now I find it rather amusing. I'd like to believe that I've finally matured when I was able to overcome the things I used to despair and grieve about, and endure life's uncertainty without jumping off a bridge.

A few times, I caught myself sounding like my mother (cringe!). Then I remember the time [when I was an angry and confused teenager] I declared to everybody who wanted to listen that I would NEVER be like my mother! Now it becomes apparent that I can’t escape the genes I inherited from my parents---I should at least thank my mother for the accidental good genes I got. So I’ve accepted the fact that whatever I do, I can’t avoid cellulites!

The physical aspects of growing old are unavoidable, and because we have a youth-oriented culture, it is natural that we become conscious of our age. I'm turning 40-something this October and I do not wish to look 25---well, maybe just a gorgeous 40-something (hehe). I cursed the day when I started wearing reading glasses---I was 33, and people started calling me ma’am, my cousins called me Miss Principal. But I soon realize that it was actually a blessing. With imperfect vision, I could barely see my wrinkles! (What are wrinkles anyway? They merely indicate where smiles have been.)

It is true that our bodies and minds do change with age, but I believe that we really do get better as we mature. Only in the past few years when I really begun to learn who I am, what I want, and accepted the things I cannot change.

I’ve also found that my personal definition of beauty changes over time. There is a depth and beauty that comes only with age. The men may disagree, but look at Diane Lane (43), Monica Bellucci (44), Halle Berry (42), Zsa Zsa Padilla (43), Dina Bonnevie (47), Meg Ryan (46), to name a few.

When we were younger, my girlfriends and I would meet for lunch that dragged on until dinner…talking about the men [or the lack of it] in our lives, our jobs, fashion trends, movies and books, places we'd like to visit, our daily dramas. Now, we talk about our health scares, our aging parents and their health problems. We worry about our nephews and nieces, the quality of their education, the drug menace, over-population, women and children's rights.

I know that I am getting older because I begin to think about problems which didn’t use to concern me at all. I worry about global warming, deforestation, street children, cholesterol, dioxin carcinogens, terrorism, the economy---and try to do what I can to help. I can now watch a senate hearing on TV without falling asleep. I am officially a "concerned citizen".

While some people look at growing older with fear in their hearts, I see this time of my life differently. There is so much growth that happens as we mature---I am not talking about unwanted hair growth, but emotional, spiritual and yes, physical growth. I’d like to make most of getting older by living my life in a vibrant and healthy manner. I laugh and smile everyday. Read. Listen to music. Eat well. Hold on to my dreams. Love what I'm doing. Engage in stimulating conversations. And still try to exercise, drink lots of water, and get some sleep.

I still panic sometimes, forget to breath. But I have a lot to be grateful for, reaching this stage of my life with conscious and unconscious risks taken, surgeries, illnesses, hopes, regrets, dreams, fears, disappointments, loves, memories. And I’m writing this, smiling at the thought that wrinkles and grey hairs don’t hurt.

Let’s celebrate our journey through this life.


pusa said...

omg, im old! i cant help but nod on these stuff while reading!!!

:) well anyways i dont care about getting old, and i actually gain more confidence as i get older, besides age is in the mind... i still feel young, i guess i stopped growing old when i turned 20 =)

Unknown said...

Truth be told, I like myself better now than say 10 years ago. When we figure out who we are, what we want, the extent of our ignorance, I guess that builds self-confidence.:)

I hope to be a young senior citizen someday, pusa.:D

Thanks for visitng.

 gmirage said...

Hmm...its good when you're forty and people think you're 22! Like what I thought about you!

maybe all of us gets anxious of getting old (all the more dying!) I don't know but I hold on to the Bible's promise of paradise...kaya eto kain ng kain...di iniisip ang later on =D

There's an ad here before with a photo of women whom I think are 35+. It in a way says: "All women will show their true beauty once in their life...We'll go for later!"

Anonymous said...

I don't worry anymore about getting old...I am already there LOL.

Unknown said...

I always believe that 'a cheerful heart is good medicine', Gzel. Kaya siguro you thought I was 22.hehehe

Even the bible tells us not to get anxious about tomorrow, and live one day at a time, we still worry, and that's human nature. I remember the verse, '...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit...' so in effect, its our duty to God to take care of it. :D

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting, bertn. Getting old is something we can't escape from [unless we die young], like taxes and death. Enjoy! :)

Anonymous said...

It is so obvious but I never thought about it until you mentioned that the alternative to getting old is dying young! I'll have to check all my body parts and see if everything is working; then I'll get up and meet the new day with a smile LOL.

Unknown said...

Be optimistic, bertn, and keep checking!:D Thanks for visiting again.

Webradio said...

Bonjour !
Très joli pont...

Dangereux, non ?

Panaderos said...

Beautiful piece. When I was a child, I wished that the days would go fast so that I would get old soon. There was something about it that appealed to me. I believe it was the freedom that age would bring. I would finally be free to experience and do things.

I learned a lot from those things and I bear the scars from some of them. But I still think that I'm a better person now because I went through those experiences. I feel freer in a lot of ways than a lot of people I know of who stuck with the straight and narrow path in life.

As for the beautiful 40-somethings you mentioned, I'm so glad that the women in my generation are doing one hell of a job taking care of themselves better than women of previous generations. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you, Panderos. Childhood dreams make us long for adulthood to happen sooner. “When I grow up, I want to be…”---we couldn’t wait for that dream to come true. And yes, as kids, we dreamed of spontaneous freedom, freedom to be good and freedom to be bad. Only to learn that freedom has its responsibilities and consequences. Bummer! :-D So I continue to be childish in other realms of my life. Who knows, it might be the secret of the 40-somethings who remain delightful to the senses (haha).

I’m sure you’re proud of your scars, after all every winner has scars. One poet even wrote that “the most massive characters are seared with scars.”


Unknown said...

Bonsoir ! Pas, it' pont très sûr de SA. Merci de la visite.

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escape said...

"It is true that our bodies and minds do change with age, but I believe that we really do get better as we mature."

>>> very good point there.

Unknown said...

Thank you, dong.:D

nutart said...

Hey, Luna! A toast to your very insightful post on aging. The most astonishing thing now that i'm ancient (hehe) is that i can work in a focused way without the need of turning on the radio or listening to music! When I was younger, that was just unheard of!
My mother always say "I am as old as the universe and as young as the rising sun." That's her mantra and I think it works for her :-)!
Another friend (a Scottish lady) would use to whine that she's getting old but since she did the Tai Chi and went into the mantra of "let go", she says now that she's ageless! Celebrate, my friend! Cheers!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Bernadette! You're NOT ancient---not by a long shot! I once spent a week by myself, no TV and radio, and the only times I spoke was to order food. The first 2 days was weird, but by the 3rd day, I was enjoying myself. That started my long bus rides (hehe).

Einstein wrote this to his friend: "I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity."

Let's celebrate our ripening!:D

Keith said...

My mantra comes from the Bible. "The truth shall set you free."

I have panicked over many things: loss of money, loss of strength, loss of time, loss of opportunities.

Amazing that every year my birthday passes, I become less poanicked. I find out what the truths are. I see the beauty in me, and I am no longer bothered as much by scales of time and accomplishment.

I need meditate more often. I still panic from time to time..... so pointless.

Unknown said...

So true, Keith. Panicking over "things" is pointless. I think it's great that as we grow older, we've come to learn to love our imperfect selves perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Happiness and Maturity is the secret in aging gracefully... Honestly though, I like myself better now than 10 years ago.