Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life.
Kitty O’Neill Collins
Old age is a catastrophe.
There isn’t anything desirable about it. People aren’t like fine wine. They don’t get better, they only persevere. Even so, the world is full of Pollyanna’s concocting wonderful sounding benefits from aging. Those fools believe the hype ginned up to keep us from facing the truth. They will find out soon enough that it’s all a pile of crap. Aging sucks!
You don’t get wiser. You don’t get better looking. You don’t even get respect. You just get old. Nothing works like it used to. Your body sags and bags where it used to bulge and flex. Still aging is the best alternative available. As much as your quality of life deteriorates with aging, nobody wants to throw in the towel. People cling to life and accept aging even as they search for validation. Take me, for example. I don’t even feel like a grown-up yet.
When do I get the secret handshake that tells me I’m grown-up? Sure I am old but looks aren’t everything. Just because the years pass doesn’t mean that your mind goes along. I have always felt a disconnect between my chronological age and the way I feel. Just reaching 21 and being able to buy a drink didn’t make me feel like a grown up. Heck, I’m still waiting for the special handshake that lets me know I’m an adult. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. Most of the time I am just as confused and insecure as a kid about what to do. It’s all I just put up a front and hope no one will notice.
It’s frustrating because when I look around, everyone else seems to look comfortable and competent. They look like they are completely comfortable in their skins while I know for a fact that I am faking it. Why am I the only one? Who’s going to let me in on the secret?
Just looking at me it’s clear that I’ve been around the block. No body cards me anymore. I am well past middle age. In truth, I’m downright old. Still, my brain can’t believe it. Why do I look so decrepit and feel so confused. Where’s that wisdom and serenity that is supposed to go along with aging? Something is wrong. The physical reality I show the world is a white-haired guy with wrinkles but in my mind I’m still the confused adolescent just trying to get by and hoping that the rest of the world won’t notice.. I’m still looking for the secret handshake.
Sometimes, however, a flash of insight breaks through the fog. I look around and notice that the adults inhabiting my world aren’t quite what I expect them to be. It is clear that they aren’t kids. They have paunches, wrinkles and bald spots. Some of them even have canes, walkers and wheel chairs. I look eagerly for some sign that they aren’t in control. Is there a hint that they don’t have life under control? I keep hoping but I can’t be sure. Even with those deficiencies, they seem comfortable in their skins and confident of their place in the world. When did they get the handshake and what’s wrong with me?
I don’t find much to like about aging but I am not ready to throw in the towel. I plan to keep breathing as long as possible. Aging sure isn’t a good thing but I’ll take it over the alternative. sometimes I wonder what makes me cling to the miserable, deficient lifestyle of an old person.
I still have hope!
It’s just hard to explain but I think I am beginning to understand my motivation. It’s hope. I still believe that somewhere, somebody has the secret handshake to welcome me into the world a mature adults. I still long for the feeling of comfort and control that I always associated with being a grown up which so fat has eluded me. I haven’t given up hope that one day before I fade into senescence, I’ll feel like an adult.