Thursday, May 3, 2012

On aging


I just had a deep thought.

I was rushing past the bathroom mirror to shut the running water off in the tub and I caught a glimpse of myself going by. And I thought, "gee, I'm old." And also, "this is how I look now. But that's OK. I am good with looking my age."

But that's not my deep thought.

This whole getting old thing is taking a lot of getting used to and I think I just now figured out why.
Bear with me a second as I sort through it.

When we're kids, and up to the age when we stop growing, our looks change drastically every five minutes, or so it seems. Kids get used to seeing something different every time they look in the mirror.

In the years between 20 and 50, things pretty much stay the same. We might get fatter, or our hair gets thinner. Or grayer. But basically everything stays constant. At least that's how it's been with me. For 30 years, every look in the mirror showed the face I have been intimately familiar with.

Once I hit 50, things really began to change. The wrinkles in my face are coming out of nowhere. The texture of my skin is thinner. The gray is coming faster. The face I have known for so long is changing as quickly as it did when I was a kid, only it's the reverse. Instead of growing, my face will be growing old, at the same rate as it grew up back in my youth.

That's why I get so freaked out when I look in the mirror. Every time I see myself, I look different. And if I'm lucky enough to live another 20 years, I will watch the changes come faster and faster.

Our lives are like the life cycle of a tree, I guess. We start as seeds, we grow, we stay the same big strong tree for decades or centuries, and then we start to rot at the same speed at which we first grew.

It's the speed of the rot that freaks me out.

The photo, above, was taken in 1981 at a set for a movie being filmed in this area - a tacky horror flick called Humongous. I was working for the Gravenhurst News at the time. It was my first job and I was only 20 years old. It was the beginning of my face as I knew it for 30 years. I have to say, there were many times when I cursed my face for not being pretty enough, but now that I see my new-old face in the mirror, I can appreciate it for how beautiful it really was. (I'm hoping to write a magazine article about that old movie - it's why I dug through my yellowed, dusty archives of newspaper clippings and probably what got me pontificating on the wonders of aging.)

44 comments:

  1. I agree. I began noticing a few years back that young people are all so beautiful if only they knew it. The little things like pimples or bad hair or even features that are slightly askew or out of proportion don't touch that beauty at all. They are just oozing life and it's breath taking.

    Now, however, I am seeing the beauty of grey hair and a well aged face full of character. White hair sparkles!

    What I like to imagine is the young person old and the old person young. It's not easy.

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    1. So true Jeannie. Youth truly is wasted on the young.

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  2. Every time I pass a mirror, I look in and wonder where that old lady came from. Or, when did my mom get here? LOL Inside, I still feel the same as I did when I was a kid.

    Your face is beautiful- then and now!

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    1. Aww gee, thanks Jaybird. I wasn't fishing for compliments - honest!

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  3. Working in the old age home I see a lot of old people. The thing I hate most about the job is becoming like family with some of these people and then they pass. But what characters and you learn so much about living from some of these people! Their hearts are still young even though their body is old. I often ponder how fast life goes by and it does for everyone. I put down our body changing to being more accepting of everyone's eventual death. How depressing is that? But you wouldn't accept dying at 100 if you still looked 20. Just my thoughts! Any way Cathy, you look amazing so quit worrying about a few wrinkles! I think I have way more than you do! Besides, you can always pay big bucks to look like Kenny Rogers! lmao

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    1. (You do do not have more wrinkles than me, sister - every time I see you, you get younger and more beautiful. TRUE.)

      I think what you said is another very deep thought - that aging is a preparation for the acceptance of death. Good one.

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    2. Kenny Rogers!!!! What a freak! WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT TO THEMSELVES? WHY? WHY?????

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  4. You're still a spring chicken girl. Not to worry.

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  5. Should come by where I work. Most things there ARE real old. Great post, and you look like your Mom.

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    1. Looking like my mom is the BEST compliment. She is absolutely, hands down, one of the nicest looking women I know. Thanks Lucy! (I take it you work in an antiques shop?)

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  6. Don't tell me parts start falling off at fifty!
    And I remember that movie.

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    1. You remember that movie? Seriously? hahahahaha! Too funny! It's not like it was an Academy Award winner by any stretch.

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  7. I so get what you are saying. It seems gravity kicks in at 50, and it's all downhill from there. At least the physical stuff.

    As compared to youth.

    I like to think of my face and body, the wrinkles and the bumps and the curves and scars, as a roadmap of my life. Cartographers always put a slight imperfection in their maps, they do that on purpose to prove they were the creator, and that is how I try to think of myself growing older: a map with my own imperfection.

    BTW, I find you beautiful. So hush. Peace...

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    1. I didn't know cartographers did that to their maps. Really! I guess I'll never get truly old if I keep learning something new, like that, every darn day.

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  8. I think the same thing every time I pass a mirror. As a matter of fact, I DON'T look in those mirrors! And the speed of rot line kind of creeped me out :)

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  9. I hear you and I totally relate. Now when I see my kids it brings back those memories of when I was that age. Then I look in the mirror and see my father. Sorry, Dad, now I know what it must have been like for you--you did a good job and taught me well.

    Lee
    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. Hey Arlee! So nice to see you here, by the way! Hope you're recovering from A to Z.... I'm a little verklempt over you thanking your Dad. Nice to hear. Everything I do as a parent that's good I credit to my parents.

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  10. Oh, Cathy. I've already put in those twenty years after fifty. Not too bad. I was much better looking back then, but what the hell. Liz mentioned young hearts in old bodies, but that's for really old people. My heart is still pretty current, and I get around with a cane for a rudder as well as my forty year old daughters. Not grandkids, though, except they won't leave grandma behind. Before I forget, I was going to mention you are a good looking woman, woman.

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  11. My dear Cathy
    You should be thankful that you are able to look in the mirror and see yourself aging. So many people never get to experience that! And by the way, if you think you're beginning to rot, I must be really rotten and maybe a little smelly! Don't be so hard on yourself~ Lot's of love. Mom

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    1. Lots of love right back at you! You are my hero, by the way! oxoxoxo
      (Ladies and gentlemen, my mommy)

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  12. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082537/

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    1. I was there yesterday, doing some research for the story! I love that the star of the show wound up as a doctor on a soap opera and not much since. He was pretty full of himself when I met him way back when.

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  13. It's not so much the wrinkles that bother me, rather it's the increased poundage!

    Oh well - if I'dhavd been born a couple of hundred years ago, perhaps I'd be considered a 'comely wench'! ;-p

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    1. You'd totally be rocking the wench, Sue. (Picturing you as a barmaid with a ridiculous amount of cleavage and a tray full of ale.)

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    2. Hmmm - perhaps you're getting subliminal images from my association with the Campaign for Real Ale.....

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  14. If I feel down with my 60 year old face and body I just think of those movie stars that have decided to have facelifts etc. It is better to age gracefully than to look like a robot! Cathy I have seen you and you look fabulous!

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    1. YOU ARE NOT 60! Really???? You're 60? Sue, you are the BEST LOOKING 60 I'VE EVER SEEN. Geez, I would have put you down as younger than me - no shite! What's your secret? Beeswax? Honey? Pollen?

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  15. I have to think of all those who didn't make it to this age and I'll take the alternative. :) I remember watching my parents age, and thinking how they became softer to look at with the years. I hope I do, too. You look fab. Don't let it worry you.

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    1. Yes, the alternative sucks. (But I only show you the 'good' photos...)

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  16. When my father started getting a sense of his own aging, he sent me a book called "Gifts of Age." Nothing to do with me, I thought at the time, yet I've always remembered that book. Here's a link: here. A friend of mine once called wrinkles ironed in by the Chinese laundry "status wrinkles." I believe myself to be extremely high status, about now. As another friend of mine, who has so far survived what many thought an unsurvivable illness once said, "every day is a good day." He got that right, I'd say.

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    1. Any book with Julia Child on the cover has to be a good book... thanks for the link, Susan, and for the very good advice.

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  17. I honestly hope that my genes will prove me to have been blessed when I reach my mother's and my grandmother's age. The former is currently 60 and honestly doesn't look a day over 45 while the latter is 81 and easily looks like she did over twenty years ago. o_O

    -Barb the French Bean

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    1. Gimme some of those French Bean Genes, will ya Barb??

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  18. Funny how I just looked in the mirror and came to your post here. I had been telling myself the mirror was bad, but now I understand that it is only me. Ha. We're so funny.

    I love this picture of you. You look like you have a true sense of self and place, and I look forward to reading the article.

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    1. Rubye, I may look like I had a true sense but, honestly, I didn't know my arse from a hole in the ground.

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  19. Ugh, when I was in my twenties, I couldn't wait until I was thirty. I thought that I would never go through the aging blues. But, alas, I am. I fortunate to long young but every white hair freaks me out.

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    1. We're never happy about whatever life stage we happen to be in when we're young. But I'm pretty happy right now. No desire to go backwards, that's for sure. Can you imagine being a teenager again? NO THANKS!

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  20. That's a damned good thought to have, Cathy. Hold on to it and evaluate it as true. You've blogged at length on weight and struggles; you've earned a little pride in how you look, and peace with one's body is preciously rare in our societies.

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    1. Well said, John. There's too much bloody emphasis on how we look.

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  21. I have to say that I see the twenty year old you and today's you as being a bit closer together than you seem to. Ripe and nearly so? I am appalled at the changes I see (and try not to see them) but that is a weight issue rather than aging. I have earned my grey hairs and both of my wrinkles.

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    1. "Both of my wrinkles." hahahaha. Good one, EC.

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