Betty Davis famously said “Aging is not for sissies”. I can at this point in my life say she was right on the money. For the most part no one is prepared for the aging process. We may be around older people as we go through our lives, but where is the field guide that shows us how to navigate the aging journey? I recall telling my mother when she complained about her aches and pains that if she exercised every day she would be fine. Her response was analogous to being a prophet. “You’ll see”, she said. She was right, I did see and I have been experiencing her words for several years. The ultimate irony is that my youngest son recently told me that if I just improved my “core” I would have less arthritic pain. I heard my mother’s voice come out of my lips “you’ll see”! I hope he doesn’t but his reaction just shows how difficult it is for the young to empathize with aging. My go to phrase now for getting older is “You don’t get it, till you get it”.
It requires true grit and the ability to adapt to go though some of the phases of aging. Role models help as well. I was fortunate to witness grandparents and a mother who kept on going like the “energizer bunny”. The one constant amongst them was a sense of humor. My mother in particular had an ability to self-deprecate that would leave me in stitches. George Bernard Shaw certainly knew what he was talking about when he said “Youth is wasted on the young”. However, my mother’s metaphor really nailed it. She said she had the furniture disease, which means your chest falls into your drawers. I have recently been witness to a lot more than my chest falling into my drawers. It’s truly amazing how the body changes and not necessarily in a way that makes you want to shout “Whoopee”.
There are perks to aging that can make the journey easier if you can embrace them. Humor is at the top of my list. Being able to laugh at yourself whenever possible can be the best medicine. I find it incredibly ironic that I spent at least twenty years teaching aerobic exercise and being a gym rat. It has led to both knees being replaced, a shoulder and a hip. I am now bionic and have a much better understanding of what the word “moderation” really means.
The most important facet of aging is the realization that we need to make sure we try to live every moment to the fullest, take nothing for granted, and find ways to be connected with family and friends. Try to learn something new everyday, no matter how small. Become a mentor to someone younger it can help to keep the juices flowing. Let old grudges go, forgive even if you can’t forget. Indulge yourself peri-odically, and remember, no one is getting out of here alive no matter how many kale smoothies they have.