There are many feelings that come along with the aging process. Our personal acceptance or unacceptance of it is based on societal factors as well as who we are, what we’re feeling and our willingness to accept certain truths about our changing bodies. Those who view the glass as half full will say it’s a blessing, a privilege even. They’ll assert it brings wisdom and character, grandchildren and retirement and lots of time to enjoy hanging around with very little to do. On the other hand, others will argue, and some might view them as the bottom half dwellers of the water glass, that aging is a reality that brings aches and pains, wrinkled skin and retirement as well as too much time siting around doing nothing. Yesterday as I was getting redressed in yet another doctor’s office, it occurred to me, that had been my third visit to a doctor’s office in just a little over a week. In my self-pity I asked myself “when and how in heavens name did I get here?” The “glass half full” side of me reasoned these were necessary preventative visits, everyone goes through them. But I was promptly reminded by my bottom dwelling half, not so, this is middle age accompanied by all its undesirable parts, a package deal with all the “good and bad” pieces married together. “Welcome to a bad phase, what, had you not read the fine prints of the contract of life?”
My philosophy, right or wrong is this, there are two sides to every story and in the story of aging there is one side that is shaped by our influences and perceptions and yes, there is another side shaped primarily by the realities of what is happening to our bodies as we age. The reality is, although most of us readily accept aging as a natural part of life that brings wisdom, character, grandchildren and all that other good stuff, there is still a part of us that acknowledges that by itself aging sucks! No doubt, society affects the way we view our aging bodies and influences the negative stigma attached to it, but I’ll also argue nobody has to condition us into feeling the pain in our knees and backs or brainwash us into hating the age-related illnesses and loss that accompany it. Say what we want, but some of us will never be convinced that the extra lines of “character” in our aging faces are preferable to the young youthful look we once had. I don’t think this is vain, superficial or being unrealistic. It’s just life’s reality and science and most of us feel this way not because society tells us so but simply because the look and feel of our changing bodies do.
Still, it is true, there is more that we can do to improve our overall perceptions and attitudes towards aging. The way we treat the older population is deplorable and as a society we have to do better to make the older generation feel less expired and discarded and more a part of society. But I still believe that even if somehow, we managed to change everyone’s perception of aging for the better we will still be faced with the reality of what we see in the mirror and feel in our bodies. Some will accept this change right away, and others based on their own personal circumstances will still need some time getting used to it. They will continue to resent and fight it to the very end, and if you ask me, it’s not ideal but it is what it is, and I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. Who says we all have to accept aging right away and what is the harm if we don’t? Why should we care what society thinks about us if we don’t? One day we’ll finally accept it, or maybe the resistance will become just too much so we’ll have no choice but to just give in. In my book, that’s perfectly okay too!