Age: the Last Acceptable Discrimination
Social Security - Part 18: Presidential Pig-Headedness

Easing Into Elderhood

category_bug_journal2.gif Compliments produce feelings of self-conscious bashfulness in me. I tuck them away as mental keepsakes, and then quickly move on. Still, it is always a pleasure to find that you have been, in some manner, an inspiration to another person.

A couple of days ago, I discovered that a brand new blogger has made Time Goes By his first link to another blog with this explanation:

“The person who inspired me to take up blogging is a woman named Ronni Bennett, a former television producer who lives in Greenwich Village and writes a daily blog called Time Goes By. As the title would indicate, much of her writing is devoted to reflections on growing older, ageism, and the way our society treats its older citizens.

"She has also written a series of articles on the Social Security privatization issue that is as thoughtful and reasoned as you are likely to find in any American newspaper or journal. I recommend it to anyone who is at all concerned about this issue.”

- Deejay, Small Beer, 25 April 2005

After that, there is no way to move on without reading the blog.

Deejay is a retired, 65-year-old sports fan, freelance writer and translator who is fluent in Chinese and the author of a book on Chinese film. Impressive, but what prompted today’s post is this short statement in his personal profile, about a new haircut:

“I’ve become more interested in ease and comfort than in appearance.”

Yes! Ease and comfort are among the defining conditions of the transition from adulthood to elderhood, and manifest themselves in dozens of small ways: It is why God invented elastic. It is the reason my hair is now almost grown out into its grayness. It is the cause of my giving up high-heeled shoes (as tempting as they are in their glorious, gorgeous, sexy beauty lined up in shop windows). And it is why I’m now fat.

It is a relief to let go of the constraints imposed, in my case, by the age and beauty police who so influenced my adolescence and adulthood. But it is a mark too of internal change as we begin to enter elderhood.

In relaxing our adult rules as to appearance, we gradually allow the ego to recede from center stage as prescribed in Carl Jung’s seven tasks of aging. Betty Friedan discusses Jung’s third task in her book, The Fountain of Age:

“Draw some conscious mental boundaries beyond which it is not reasonable to expend the remainder of one’s time and energy. ‘Some careers, relationships, desired achievements, even cherished goals must be abandoned with grace or pain.’ But this can also be an ‘unloading of self-imposed burdens and a deliverance from exhausting efforts toward unlikely goals…perhaps only half-wanted rewards.

“Consciously letting go of these burdens and aspirations lets one focus total attention and energy not only on what is attainable, but on what is one’s truest concern.’”

And so, in allowing more physical comfort and ease into our lives – that is, giving up the pretense of youth – we are better able to seek the meaning of our lives and become more our unique selves.

Funny how small external changes can create deeper inner reflection. A bow to deejay at Small Beer for reminding me.

Comments

Absolutely! Each person crosses some threshhold along the way that has "You are free!" inscribed on it. We become free of constraints, some of which were only a dim concept in some cobwebby corner of our brains.
BTW: Some of the freedoms that I found when I crossed the threshhold 17 years ago were extentions of freedoms that I found 30-some years ago when upon internalizing some of the revelations of the Women's Liberation Movement. I wonder what elder freedoms are like for guys, whom I always considered to be so free when they were born.

Thanks Ronni for pointing out another interesting blog.

Ronni

You are always an inspiration to me as well.


Plus Crabby rocks!


Take Care
Michael

Rony, I'll have to come back and discover more of your blog. I arrive from the blog of Claude "Blogging in Paris" met on Flickr. I live near Paris and have a blog in french : Il y a de la vie après 70 ans (there is life after 70 years).

your blog is so awesome i should be paying you to read it.....well take care and have good weekend- ttyl

Ronni models courage when she says, in so many words, "It is the reason I'm now fat." This is something we hardly hear from anyone at any age; it is a rare and stunning candor. It showcases the great boon of aging: the freedom to be completely honest and accepting of our imperfect selves.

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