Saturday, February 22, 2014

Aging

I read a piece on Huffpost the other day that I can't get off my mind. The title of it was "19 Reasons Getting Older Is The Best Thing That Will Ever Happen To You. "

Man, I am calling bullshit on this one.

Here's the picture that goes with the piece. Of course.


Because that's what happens when we get older, right? We spend all our time laying together sideways in a hammock facing the most perfect beach in the world. 

Okay. Let's go from there.

1. Two words. Senior Discounts.
Are you kidding me? Just because you can get a buck off at the movies or coffee at McDonald's isn't really going to expand your horizons financially. The grocery store doesn't offer me a senior discount. The airlines certainly don't. Mexican hotels don't give a shit if you're old when it comes to what they charge. Etc. 
There is that great Senior Discount at the Goodwill so there is that. On Tuesday. I think. 20% off. Ooh boy. Now there's a savings!

2. Not worrying about how things will turn out.
What? Just because I'm almost sixty I've quit worrying about my kids and their lives? Now that I have grandchildren I'm less worried than I was before about how things will turn out? I'm less concerned with things like environmental disaster and racism and homophobia in a world that my grandkids are going to grow up in? Because I'm older and seeing all the changes in my body I'm less concerned with how my OWN life is going to turn out? I no longer care if I die suddenly from a cardiac event or linger for decades in a nursing home with dementia?
I don't think so.
"I'm confident I've faced the worst of my problems," the author's 65-year-old-plus father said. Dream on, Grandpa.

3. More mature relationships. Hopefully.
This one is true. However, the longer you love someone, and the older you grow together, the sharper the focus on how one day one of you is going to have to live without the other. This may add an element of appreciation and consciousness about your love you couldn't experience when you were younger but it's not exactly comforting.

4. You've carved out a career.
Because job security is such a guaranteed thing in our society today. You ever try to look for a job when you're in your fifties, sixties or seventies? Trust me- you don't want to.

5. Looks aren't everything.
And quite frankly, they shouldn't be no matter what your age. People over the age of 55 still really do give a shit what they look like. We may not look like we do but we do. Would the plastic surgery and cosmetic industry be what they are if we didn't? 

6. There's nothing wrong with a 9:30 bedtime.
This one I absolutely agree on. Amen and hallelujah. 

7. You stop caring what others think.
In what universe? I may not care as much but I sure as shit still care. Otherwise I'd never wear a bra. 

8. Fewer major life decisions to make.
Whoa nelly! Really? I look at around me at plenty of folks my age who are making major MAJOR life decisions. That are going to affect them unto death. Because after a certain age, you don't have the luxury of time to wiggle your way out of decisions that may not have been the best. 

9. Being considered a sage by default. 
Oh yeah. Because the elderly in our culture are so respected for their wisdom and life experience. Right.

10. It's okay to be an old soul. 
Uh- what choice do I have? 

11. Dressing for comfort, first and foremost.
Semi-true. But if it were entirely true, I'd wear overalls everywhere. Which hasn't happened. Yet. 

12. More stable relationships.
Fuck that. People are as crazy at seventy as they are at thirty and our relationships change and morph just as much as they ever did. Also? Your beloved friends start to get sick and DIE! How stable is that? 

13. Having children.
I really don't understand this one. Go read what the author says and get back to me. Something about how once we've lived to a certain age we've done and seen everything but can view the world anew through the eyes of our children as they discover the world? 
Maybe I haven't seen and done enough to understand this one.

14. Retirement. 
Which we will spend laying sideways on a hammock together facing the most beautiful beach in the world. Instead of trying to live on a fixed income, going to an increasing number of doctors' appointments, worrying about our children and grandchildren, and dining out at the Early Bird Special every night where we will get that Senior Discount. 

15. To be done paying off my student loans.
God, I would hope so.

16. To stop having to keep up with technology.
Oh yeah. Go hook up the horse to the buggy, Grandpa. We don't need no stinking technology. The world can just go blasting forward, technology-wise without us needing to know anything about it. Leaving us isolated and getting our news from the newspaper and Fox on our good ol' TeeVee. 

17. It's perfectly acceptable to sit at concerts.
It's also perfectly acceptable not to go to concerts so, sure.

18. Moving less frequently.
From one level of assisted-living care to another until you're finally on the total-care floor. Yep. True.

19. Buh-bye PMS. 
Hello menopause! and the horror of what happens when your body quits making hormones. Oh yeah- it's all good after those periods stop showing up every month. Every fucking second of the day is just a picnic and a party and we're finally, all of us, emotionally stable for the first time in our lives!
Excuse me while I go take my antidepressant. 

I'm betting that the person who wrote this piece was nowhere near the age of qualifying for the Senior Discount. And I will agree that there are some advantages to getting older and of course- the alternative is that you die young so there is that. But honestly, in the real world, for me at least, getting older hasn't provided any slow-down of life changes or choices to be made or lessening of problems. And I think that believing it will is a dangerous lie. We may gain some perspective as we age but the things we lose can be devastating- our health, our cognitive abilities, our friends, our spouses. Some of these things we do have some control over but some of these things we simply do not. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on a stupid fluff-piece and honestly, I'm not disagreeing entirely. I'm just saying that it's as ridiculous to think that older age is truly the best thing that is ever going to happen to us as it is to say that youth is the best time of our lives. There are too many factors involved to designate a "best of" label to any part of life. 
Life is all about taking what we have and trying to do the best we can with it no matter where we are in the process. To be aware and to celebrate and enjoy what each age brings us for as long as we can. 

It's a beautiful Saturday here in Lloyd, everything washed clean by yesterday's storms. We are going to a wedding today and there we'll be, holding hands as we watch a young couple begin a new stage of their lives, even as we begin, over and over, different stages of our own life together and as individuals. Because this is the way it is. 
There are always hopes and there are always dreams and there are always regrets and there are always fears and there are always some comforts to be taken, milestones to be celebrated, compromises to be made, realities to be faced. 
And you can lay sideways in a hammock with your love at any stage of life but let me tell you something- getting out of that hammock with any grace whatsoever is going to be harder with every passing year. 

Happy Saturday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon








22 comments:

  1. Ooooohhhh Mary! THIS is why I love you so much. By god you tell the whole truth and THAT is far more comforting than fluff piece lies from an infant with an imagination and a stupid assignment. And that last line about the hammock. Oh god I just laughed. A spoonful of laughter makes the medicine go down. This just might be my favorite post if yours ever. Which is seriously saying something.

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  2. As for no 13, seeing the world anew through your kids eyes, well, I'm happy for them as their lives expand, you know i am, but I'm also envious as hell that I am so beyond those experiences myself, which does not mean I begrudge my children having them, not at all, just that it makes me sad to know such moments are behind me. Elizabeth's post today stirred this up too. Aging has its silver linings of course, grandchildren I imagine might be a major one for those who have grown children, but the aches and diminishments are fucking real too. I'm working on making peace with them.

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  3. I concur!!
    You know, I get my news online because if it's depressing, I just go to a different website, without having to look for the remote control. Anyway, Huffington Posts' stories (in comparison to CTV.ca or the CBC's) are always so sensationalized! It really rattles my Canadian sensibilities and affects the way I absorb the news.
    It's total bullshit!
    Like I said yesterday, grandbabies are the best thing about getting older. Everything else is not cool.

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  4. Now THAT is an essay I'd like to see on the Huff Post.
    xo

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  5. I like your essay better that that silly Huff Post one for sure. Gawd, what a load of crap. Most of it anyway. Whereas yours. Lovely and very well written. I'm trying to.. sort of anyway.. embrace menopause. But, well...

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  6. I just want to know where they got that picture of Jack with that red haired woman? I'd know that little balding head anywhere! Just kidding.

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  7. Have fun at the wedding. My son and daughter-in-law will be there too. You already met her. My son will be the tall and handsome guy following her around! By the way, I make it a point to never wear a bra. Well almost never.

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  8. Angella- I thought you'd get a chuckle out of the getting-out-of-the-hammock thing. I mean really. I wish I'd been at that photo shoot. And sorry- #13 doesn't work at all for me. Maybe when they were babies and I got to see the world through a child's eyes again. But now? Their experiences are their own and have very little to do with me.

    Heartinhand- Huffpost is incredibly sensationalized. It's little better than the UK's Daily Mail in many ways. But they do offer some interesting articles as to politics.
    I agree with you about the grandkids thing. Everything else can sort of fuck off.

    Lisa- Why they haven't recruited me yet is a big mystery to me. Haha!

    Mary- I've been out of menopause for a good long while and I've yet to truly embrace it. In some ways I doubt I ever will. Acceptance is about as far as I can get with it.

    Jan- Ha! Has he disappeared lately and come home with a suntan? I doubt it.

    Lois- I'll say hey to them! And I'm not going to be wearing a bra. Some sort of support, yes, but not a damn bra.

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  9. I saw that article photo too the other day and didn't click the link. The vision of the two happy, older people in the hammock made me a little queasy, no matter what the article was going to say. I knew I wouldn't be able to relate to it.

    You spoke truth, Ms. Moon, as always and I am glad I read your version, without perusing the original. I am sure it was much more factual.

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  10. Goodwill does not give old people discount any longer. They now do the color of the week. Just not as much fun without our big old people discount. Always love your writing.

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  11. Maybe it's just me, but I can't stand this new category "senior".

    Took my daddy out to lunch today at the local Denny's instead of the cafeteria for change. Apparently, it's not just AARP which thinks I'm a senior, Denny's does too.

    Mary, thank you for sharing so much of yourself. I think you're very brave.
    Jaime

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  12. Thanks for your realistic and humorous rebuttals to the virtues of aging in the Huff Post. I agree totally with you!! They should publish yours! Why not submit them?

    Georgie J.

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  13. Nicol- Not to be full of myself but yes, I think my take on it was far more realistic.

    Sittingonaporch- What???!!! Well, there goes another reason to feel good about getting old. Fuck that.
    Love you, honey.

    Jaime- I ain't brave. Not one bit. I'm just doing what I have to do which is what we all do. But thank you. So much.

    Georgie J- Do they pay actual money? If so, I might consider submitting.

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  14. There's a lot of bullshit out there in the world of "journalism" these days...

    I can see how some of these things are true. I already, at 47, feel less pressure to keep up with technology and less worry about the state of the world in general. (I guess I just realize more and more that there are limits to what I can do!) But yeah, it sounds like this writer glossed over a lot of the concerns that go with growing older.

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  15. Bleurg. I have no pension. I have kids who will need to go to college and DO stuff that costs a lot. I have a shitty part time job. Their dad has a shitty full time job and we barely make rent and bills. When I'm sixty, there is no way I'll be able to afford to retire. Health insurance, illness, the kids... looking crappy will be the least of my worries, sure!

    Loneliness. Dependency. These are things we worry about.

    I think they should have got an older person to write this one.

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  16. Brilliant and hilarious. Thanks Ms Moon!

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  17. Steve Reed- Glossed over and neglected to mention. Probably because she has no idea yet.

    Jo- But hey! No periods! Which is amazing, right? You are completely correct about the fact that they should have gotten an older person to write that piece.
    But then again, it would not have been the same piece and not nearly as cheerful.

    Ms. Yo- Thank-you. I hope I made you laugh a little.

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  18. Hilarious. And I think it would be a great piece/retort to send to the Huffington Post -- I dare you.

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  19. asheville cabbie- Howdy! Thanks.

    Elizabeth- How in hell do you submit to Huffpost and do they even pay?

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  20. The photo reminds me of an ad for Cialis and the article sounds like BS. I like the reality of old age sucking better than the warm and fuzzy version.

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  21. Syd- Aging is what it is and it ain't easy and young whippersnappers have no idea. Yes, I said, "young whippersnappers," proving I am aging. Rapidly.

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Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.