Gerrit van Honthorst (1623) Old Woman Examining a Coin
As I mature in years there are things that I both like and dislike about getting older.
First the things that I like:
1. Wisdom: It can’t be bottled, only learnt from life and experiences.
2. Confidence: We learn to eventually get to know who we are and be more comfortable with ourselves in our own shoes.
3. Awareness: We become more aware that our life is a short one (it seems to go by faster too the older we get). There are apparently biological reasons for this. So as life goes by faster, we tend to waste less of it.
4. Goals: This is linked to awareness. As we are aware of how short life is, the ‘small things’ become less important and we set and achieve more goals.
The Things I Don’t Like:
1. Some people don’t mind looking older. To some, each line on their face is a badge of honour of an life lived. I suspect that in the next ten years that I may take on this point of view. However for the moment, pressures of modern society are such that ‘younger is good’ and ‘old is out’. Remember the lyrics of the song recorded by Denny Dennis with Roy Fox & His Band, 1934, London: Keep young and beautiful? The tune sounds ‘light and airy’ but the lyrics contain a disturbing revelation of how society views ageing.
The first two lines go:
“It’s your duty to be beautiful;
Keep young and beautiful If you want to be loved!”….
2. Ageism: This also links in with the earlier point. Agesim is everywhere, it can affect your search for a job, where you go, what songs you are ‘supposed’ to listen to and demands from society on how you dress, talk and behave.
3. Worrying about retiring: Pension funds, mortgage worries, boredom, feeling a burden on society.
4. Things falling off: There’s no denying it, as we get older, physical parts of our bodies wear out.
On balance then, is it good or bad to get older?
Take a look at the woman in the picture above, what do you see? I see a fascinating lady that I’d love to get to know. If I saw a picture of someone much younger, I might want to talk to her if she has a kindly face, but more often than not I’d just smile and walk away. I suspect that as the years pass, that my list about that I dislike about getting older will get shorter as I concentrate on the good things and that’s perfectly fine with me.