Growing old is so freaking weird. And humbling, especially because it's not a secret that it's challenging. It's shocking to everyone. You hear it and hear it and hear it -- aging is not for sissies, thank you Bette Davis! -- but somehow it does not sink in until it happens to you. Time passes, you don't die. One day you wake up, look in the mirror and think, "Holy shit! I'm OLD! But ... but ... I don't feel old inside." It's like a slap across the face. Funny and humbling, I tell you.
That disconnect is one of life's final challenges. Coming to terms with the quandary of the eternal soul living in partnership with an all too finite body that is tender, soulful, powerful, resilient, fragile, sentient, unpredictable -- well -- that is not a task for sissies. Believe me.
The body, too, has its issues with aging. I think the noble mammals of our bodies kind of like being ensouled. It must be hard for the body, too, to grow old. No wonder the aches and pains and other issues that are part of healthy aging. It's not just the machinery wearing out. I think our bodies wish it could go on a little longer, too.
I've been thinking about the idea of aging gracefully a lot lately. As a younger woman I had romanticized ideas about it, for real. I thought aging gracefully meant a gracious and hospitable attitude towards the truth: life is short! I thought it was possible to welcome aging. Ha ha ha ha! That is hilarious to me now.
Here on Capitol Hill I'm part of a group of friends of almost exactly the same age. We met when I moved here in 2001 when we were in our late 40s. I've watched all of us age over the years. I think we are aging gracefully. What that looks like to me these days is: Sure -- of course we freak out every now and then. We don't try to hide the moments of WTF. We soon enough get a grip on the emotion and carry on, plus we all have a sense of humor about it. Graceful! Yes?
The picture points to what my 85 year old self always says when I ask for advice. In my mind's eye she says, "Oh dear! Why not put on a brew? A nice cup of tea will be just the thing." I used to roll my eyes at that advice, but it works! I switch off the devices or put them in the other room, brew a delicious cup of tea, then sit on my sofa and gaze out the window as I drink it. It makes me stop. It makes me pause. And it comforts.
We boomers are beginning our journey away from embodiment, making space for the next generations. It's so freaking weird.