To age or not to age

I'm 47. My husband turns 50 in September, but this is not a topic for discussion. For his 50th birthday, he would like to travel to a quiet island in the tropics and lament. It seems that while he transitioned like a gentle breeze at 30 and 40, 50 is another matter entirely. I, on the other hand, struggled more with 30 and nothing else subsequently has been a bother, not even the thought of having a big 5 in my age, or 6.

At 29, I probably saw turning 30 as a threat, whereas now, aging is a challenge and I refuse to surrender even though it appears to get more difficult with each passing decade. This brings me to the old adage about aging gracefully. In my twenties (1980s), it clearly meant to age without resorting to a face-lift. I recall a discussion on this one morning tea at our law firm. One of the secretaries proudly declared that she would "age gracefully", and mocked those who suggested they would consider plastic surgery at the appropriate time. However, she, "Alice", was also the one who could not wait to get married so that she no longer had to worry about keeping trim. I therefore concluded that "aging gracefully" was an excuse to let oneself go, rather than an unwillingness to resort to plastic surgery. I declared then that I would age disgracefully. This does not mean that I would consider plastic surgery—Jocelyne Wildenstein cured me of that.

Ironically, the adage "to age gracefully" seems to have adapted over the decades, and now seems to mean to age with acceptance, a positive spirit, and a will to live a full life. It's about anticipating the changes that are inevitable at some age (different for everyone depending on how you spent the earlier decades it seems), and using that well-earned wisdom, resilience and maturity to deal with it in a positive way. If this is what aging gracefully has come to mean, then I'm on the bandwagon. In contrast, aging disgracefully, given the changing social conditions over the decades, now seems to mean drastic plastic surgery and/or refusing to accept that one should no longer wear a leopard print body suit and hang out at clubs for the twenty-somethings.

#birthdays #aging

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2016 by Leigh K Cunningham

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