I’ve been thinking a lot about aging lately.
The other day, a dear friend who was marking her high school batch’s golden jubilee lent me her class yearbook and I’ve been reading about their various journeys with much interest and awe at how each one has navigated the the hills and valleys of their lives. Perhaps it’s also because this year I mark the age that my dad was when he passed away, and once again realizing how quickly he was gone and how short life is.
Taking better care of oneself in mind, body and spirit is a must when you hit the late forties and if you’re a woman, you begin to transition into a different but more interesting and fearless phase of life. Many women dread it but I look forward to it. I look forward to growing old with grace. One of my favorite actresses, Susan Sarandon (who turned 65 last year) once said, “Try to maintain who you are…You don’t want to look like you’re 20 when you’re 60. That’s why you have work on what’s on the inside, because that is what’s going to make the difference.” So yes, I’ve taken the route to taking better care of myself because I want to live for many more years if God grants it, but I don’t obsess over it.
Supermodel Iman who is now 57 said in an ABC interview that kindness is the key to aging gracefully. “I am kind to my skin. I remove my makeup as soon as I get home and I apply moisturizer,” she told O. “But just as important as being kind to my skin is being kind to younger women. Kindness is a lovely quality to nurture as you get older. It makes you feel good about yourself.”
In another interview, Michelle Pfeiffer, 54 described the “mourning” that takes place as one approaches the age of 50. “Honestly, there’s certainly a mourning that takes place. I mourn the young girl, but I think that what replaces that is a kind of a liberation, sort of letting go of having to hold on to that,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “Everyone knows you’re 50. So you don’t have to worry about not trying to look 50. And then it becomes, ‘Hey, she looks good for her age.'”
The forties were a challenging and interesting decade, fraught with a great deal of soul-searching and re-assessing as any mid-lifer who has been there and done that will tell you. Now that I’m at its tail-end, I look back and find that I am fully at peace with whatever it was that I had to struggle with. Looking forward to 50 now means taking even better care of myself inside and out for the journey that lies ahead. The warranty they say, runs out at age 45, so corollary to that, the inner and outer maintenance needs to be more consistent now.
It’s been an interesting life, one that continues to evolve. There have obviously been some mistakes made along the way, for after all, what life is perfect. Perfection is a myth. My attitude has always been that so long as you learn from it, then all is not lost. In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted, and going through the fire is often His way to refine us.
I close with a quote from one who has seen a lot of life and grown old in grace and kindness.
“The more mistakes you make and the more you suffer, that’s what gives you depth. I’ve made some fabulous mistakes in my life, but I believe I’ve learned from them and I’ve been pretty brave about jumping in again… I’m more aware of my mortality, that’s for sure. I look around and see people my age dealing with really difficult challenges, and that’s frightening. But it’s also a good reminder that we should really use our lives. It’s not a long life that matters, but a deep one.” – Susan Sarandon in an October 2012 MORE magazine interview