A Word about Aging

francis bacon quote woman4webNot everyone is fascinated with the topic of aging the way I am. But what I find amazing is the way people disassociate themselves from it. As if aging is something to avoid or that only happens to other people.

Sometimes a person will see my business card with Don’t Act Your Age across the top and quickly say they know some “elderly” people I could talk to. I must be targeting the “senior citizen” market, right? First of all, I don’t like either of those terms as they give older adulthood a negative connotation. Secondly, my message is for anyone 45 and up who is interested in living well and living long. So why does the word “age” make so many jump to the conclusion that I must be talking about old age?

The fact is, there’s no magical point before which someone is young and after which he or she becomes old. There is no set age, though society tries to manufacture one. The concept is fluid and individuals vary widely, so markers like 65 or 80 are pretty much meaningless.

Maybe it’s that some adults don’t want to believe that they are aging. But we all are, and we always have been. From the time we are born—actually, from the time we are conceived—we are always aging. We’re aging when we learn to walk. We’re aging when we pass through puberty. And we’re aging all throughout adulthood.

I think aging has gotten a bad rap that has led many people to fear their future selves. So turned off by images of decline and expectations of disease, they turn away whenever the conversation turns to aging. Head in the sand, they refuse to accept growing older, much less embrace it.

Call me crazy, but when I saw the first signs, I jumped in with both feet. I figured this is happening. Why not get as much as possible out of this time of life? Being older, like being younger, is not a one-dimensional thing. There are some great and some not-so-great aspects to every age. So I take the jiggly upper arms in stride, resist the urge to attach negative labels, and try to focus on what’s good. Like not falling for the crap that used to trip me up. Like knowing who I am and what I want. Like daring to live authentically because I don’t care so much about what other people think.

We have a choice: we can live in fear and denial of the future or we can embrace life fully now and always. Aging is not a bad thing, it’s a mindset. When you stop aging, you stop living. So let’s start living!

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