What Old Age Is For

The question of why we have to get old has always bothered me. Why do wrinkles have to appear? Why do our bodies fail us? Why do our minds get fuzzy and our thoughts impossible to hold onto? Why can we start for another room and forget the reason for the trip on the way?

The answer I've chosen? To teach acceptance of ourselves the way we are right this minute.

When you're twenty, healthy, and quick-witted, it's easy to look down on those who aren't any of those things. We feel indestructible, and we're often impatient with those who are less so.
When you're forty, you work hard to stay healthy, to look twenty, and to keep those wits sharp.
But at sixty you begin to realize it's a losing battle. No amount of work or study can alter the facts of time's passage, no matter what modern gurus claim. We get older. We get old.

That's not to say we have to give up, but we need to acknowledge that our physical and mental faculties will decline--are declining. You need to think about balance when you walk on slippery roads. You need to remind yourself that you'll pay later for that piece of pie. And the mirror lets you know at a glance that you're no spring chicken.

Accept it. That's reality.

Once you admit you're less sure of your mental acuity, once you admit that if you sit down on the floor there might be trouble getting back up, once you stop buying stuff that promises to hide the signs of aging, you'll feel release from a crushing burden. You'll smile at commercials for anti-aging this or that. You'll tone down your exercise routine from high-powered to low-impact. And you'll forgive yourself for forgetting where you stored the family birth records when you cleaned out that closet last summer.

In other words, you'll accept that you're human, imperfect, and mortal. It's very relaxing, and I recommend it to everyone.


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