A post titled Time Marches On….&*^#%@$! at a blog named Freak Parade came to my attention yesterday. It is written by Mel - the mother of a girl about five and a boy age ten - who is, I’m guessing, somewhere in her thirties. Here are some excerpts:
“With each year that passes, I get more and more disgusted with the whole stinking process [of aging].”
“True or not, it feels like all of the fun stuff has already been done. Dating, falling in love, the proposal, marriage, getting pregnant, seeing the tiny babies for the first time. All done.”
“I made a trip back to where I had grown up, and was pained at the effect the passing years had wrought on the place I knew as home. I was confronted with the effects of aging on the faces of those who had cared for me when I was small.”
“I long for a rewind button, or a time machine, perhaps. I tell myself to savor every moment, and am making an effort to do just that, but sometimes it just is not enough.”
“I want to reclaim what once was. I am at a place where an old photograph brings heartache just as easily as a wistful smile.”
My initial, visceral reaction was to smack her because in lamenting her loss of youth, she is piling on the stereotypes of age that smack old people in the face every day. But on quick, second thought, she is writing about what she honestly feels and deserves to be taken seriously.
How did Mel come to feel so awful about getting older? Since no one is born with an abhorrence of aging, it must be something else: our youth-centric culture, do you think?
From the cradle we are bombarded with unrelenting, negative images of age while youth – the acceptable reaches of which seem to be defined further downward each year - is extolled as the gold standard of life. Lip service is paid to experience and knowledge ("go to school, study hard, get that degree"), but apparently have no value in life or the workplace after 35 or 40. Elders are consistently portrayed as sick, crotchety, ugly and/or dim.
No wonder Mel is in such a state over her age, living with such fear and loathing day in and day out. At the end of her post, Mel issues this plea:
“So what does one do to get past this particular issue? How do you overcome a phobia of time? Tell me your thoughts, your insights. But do it quickly, please - I’m not getting any younger.”
The comments at Mel’s blog agree with her, that they too fear the passage of time which may be comforting, but is not very useful.
So here is my proposal for today: let’s do our best to help Mel from the vantage point of our experience and years. Who better to do this than old people who have been where she is and have overcome or, at least, made peace with getting old.
Many times here at Time Goes By – in my posts and your comments – we have spoken of the pleasures, advantages and enjoyment we have found in old age. Mel's plea gives us a terrific opportunity to pass on some of that learning – how we faced similar fears, wrestled with them and where we are now.
I’ve left a message on Mel’s blog to check out the comments here today. Please do leave your story below and give Mel your best thinking about getting old.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia tells another tale of humiliation - this time concerning high school when appearing "cool" is so important: The Blond Beauty.]