On Aging: Youth is Relative

Today, I came across an article from the New York Times that moved me tremendously. It vocalized many of the fears that I have been holding and desperately wanting to avoid. (As a disclaimer, I don’t intend this blog to be so personal and depressing, but as I have mentioned in an earlier post, recent events in my life have led me to constantly think about questions-on-life subjects.)

Tim Kreider writes in the article on his reaction to his mother entering a retirement home:

My sadness is purely selfish…However infrequently I go there, it is the place on earth that feels like home to me, the place I’ll always have to go back to in case adulthood falls through. I hadn’t realized, until I was forcibly divested of it, that I’d been harboring the idea that someday, when this whole crazy adventure was over, I would at some point be nine again, sitting around the dinner table with Mom and Dad and my sister. And beneath it all, even at age 45, there is the irrational, little-kid fear: Who’s going to take care of me?

Beyond his personal anxiety over becoming elderly, Kreider discusses the societal fear of aging and our attempts to romanticize the process. I appreciate that Kreider acknowledges the illusion of a glamorous aging process, and I agree that the end of life is far more ugly and powerless and painful than we would like to imagine. Knowing that popular portrayal of aging is romanticized helps me face that reality.

But let’s be real. I’m a coward. I’m scared to even be writing this post and discussing perhaps my greatest fear of all. Without the illusion that aging can be a beautiful process, and that leaving this world can be a peaceful celebration of one’s life, I don’t think I would be able to confront reality at all. I have a low pain tolerance level and can be a little paranoid about things.

Growing up scares me. Wrinkles scare me. Having to get a job and work in a structured environment everyday scares me. Moving away from my family scares me. Dealing with the consequences of an even slower metabolism scares me. Graduating from college scares me.

I guess we are given greater burdens to bear over the course of our lives for a reason, and instead of fearing responsibilities and adulthood and the inevitable, I will have to protect a strong faith that no matter how difficult the journey may be, my path is chosen and shaped out of care and deliberation.

The takeaway?

You are older at this moment than you’ve ever been before, and it’s the youngest you’re ever going to get.

With that, I conclude: I am forever young.

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