I came to grips with being 'old' when I turned 60. Not to say that I couldn't have done it at 65, 70 or maybe back in my 50s but for me, it came at 60. And it did take some adjusting.
We unfortunately live in a culture that doesn't value what is old. Mostly it is onto the new thing before the old even wears out and that is true for people as well as computers or toasters. For a long time I felt comfortable saying I was middle-aged, but there comes a point where, as your kids are also approaching middle aged, that doesn't seem right. And besides what is wrong with saying-- I am old?
Must be something as mostly when you say it, others say-- oh no you're not. Or you're as old as you feel (some days that'd be 100) or age is a state of mind. In other words, it's not that I feel okay to say I am old. It makes others feel uncomfortable when I say I am.
I regularly subscribe to a certain fashion magazine. Generally it has articles that suit every age-- although I admit many are oriented toward what surgery or cream would restore youthful vitality (answer-- none). I enjoy the articles and the photos of the latest fashion, pieces about interesting women at various stages and places in life, but this last issue made me decide to not continue the subscription when it runs out. Why? Well it was magazine devoted to Fabulous at Every Age. Sounds good, right?
Except inside was their headline piece on Sharon Stone and it was obviously airbrushed to within an inch of its life. She didn't look like the woman I have seen in other pictures, barely looked 30; and I don't believe it was plastic surgery that did it. I think it was the wonders of computer technology. Why would they do that given she is only 48-- which seems young to me by the way? Why would you do a story on fabulous at any age, use a beautiful woman of 48 and then airbrush out all evidence that she was 48? Do you know anyone even in their 30s without any lines in their faces?
Then another article, which was great on Angelica Huston, interesting woman-- 54-- and same thing, hardly anything left of the lines or any possible sags thanks to the computer. She spoke of admiring Georgia O'Keeffe, the painter, which says that she probably didn't request those lines being airbrushed out-- or (something I find unlikely) she never saw photos of the vital, old O'keeffe with lines all over her well-lived in face. No, it probably wasn't her who wanted the signs of the interesting life she has lived erased, it was the magazine. How can you devote a magazine to 'fabulous at any age,' where to be honest, you should have added 'through the wonders of modern technology?'
By this time, most of the movie stars in this country, who are older, have had enough surgery, Botox and assorted other injections that they are lucky to be able to move their face, let alone look real. There is nothing youthful about a face that is plastic. It's all done though to not look old which is considered nearly a disease instead of a natural cycle. Diane Keaton was interviewed recently regarding face lifts and said she was taking the face, with which she was born, with her when she died. That's also my plan.
There is something beautiful and illuminated about an old face that has gotten there though a full life. I particularly like this saying (would love to know who first said it as you can find it online repeated over and over but never with an author)--
"Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride!”
(Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe from image search with Google-- at www.pku.edu.cn/.../