The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you
never get the urge to throw a snowball.
The table was decorated for Christmas. You know, the kind of holiday embelishments created for easy clean up when people are milling, eating, drinking and spilling? There was a green plastic tablecloth, a gingerbread man encased inside a mason jar, and a red and white candy-striped candle. I took a seat—it was the Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas party—and hoped someone I knew would come along. But, as it turned out, being with strangers made for interesting conversations. “What is your business?” I was asked. “What is Aging Schmaging?”
Despite advice saying we all should have a thirty-second elevator speech in our pockets, I stumble when asked about my creative work. It’s too big and too personal to summerize. Nonetheless, I pieced together a few sentences about the wonders of women in the second half of life.
A woman next to me said, “When do you think ‘the second half’ starts?” I smiled. “I let people decide for themselves.” A woman sitting on the other side of me said, “How old do you think you’ll live to be?” She wasn’t asking just me, she was throwing it out to everyone at the table. Like I said, interesting.
One young-ish man said he was looking forward to aging because it was his plan to work hard while young and play hard after retirement. “I think I’ll last into my eighties or nineties.”
Another young-ish man said he was probably going to die fairly young. “I’m tall. Tall people never last as long.” A short woman (okay, me) snorted with laughter. “It’s your chance to prove the statistics wrong!” He just frowned. At least it looked like a frown as I looked up at him. Like, way up at him.
I particularly loved the multi-generational discussion because so much of what we believe is based on perceptions and cultural conditioning. For instance, during a recent Aging With Gusto meeting I attended, the participants were asked to list five words that quickly came to mind when they heard, “aging.” The compiled list included:
There were many more words on the list, but ultimately the negative ones outnumbered the positive. This probably isn’t surprising since we are inundated with messages that aging equates to discomfort, dismissal, and demise.
Are you buying that? What do you believe?
I believe we get to write the stories of our lives. I want many chapters and page-turning plot lines. Of course there will be aches and pains and disappointment but, if you think about it, at what age are those things absent?
And that is where Aging Schmaging comes in. I am here to ask, “How do you feel about aging? Why? How do you want to age? What excites you, and why aren’t you doing more of that? Let’s talk about it.”
Hey! That would be a decent thirty-second elevator speech! Thank you, Chamber of Commerce Christmas party seatmates. You made my day.