The Joys of Aging

There are a lot of people who are not happy with the fact that we age.  Entire industries and advertising campaigns are built around this feeling of worthlessness, focusing primarily on both functions and appearances that have decreased in, shall we say, lift.  Although I appreciate a good container of French face cream, and the happy results from a pill that makes a man last longer in the sack, I can’t say that the focus that our media puts on these two qualities as life changing is quite fair to our happiness quotient as human beings.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Women as they age can often become more desperate to retain a lost youth, using any means necessary to “fight” the natural process gravity exacts.  We as a gender can, generally, become depressed, anxious, bitter and intensely judgmental of both ourselves and other women.  Men aren’t that different.  They can become more aggressive, more power-hungry, date younger and younger women to prove their virility often looking more and more ridiculous in the process.  What to do?

In my humble opinion, there simply isn’t enough support out there for us to value age for the other qualities it brings.  Wisdom, insight, increased patience, humility and kindness are some internal effects that aging CAN have.  If you have taken the time to learn a craft, you might achieve a level of mastery at that craft and the attendant pleasure that practicing that mastery gives.  Some musicians are a point in fact.  How amazing were Annie Lennox and Brian May at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, rocking it out with wrinkles and gray hair flying wildly in the wind?

I am only in the earliest part of my journey towards middle age.  At 42, I am closer to my thirty-something counterparts in emotional charting, or you should think so, but the very mention of being my over 40 can sometimes have an interesting reaction in people.  Almost as if I should start planning my own funeral.  It would be funny if they weren’t so serious.

Apparently, I should be married.  I should have children.  I should be planning my husbands birthday rather than sitting here and writing about my opinion.  I should feel bad about how my eyes are going to shit, and how my neck certainly ain’t what it used to be.  I should be taking my children to summer camp.  I should be angry at younger women.  I should be mourning my youth.

But I’m not.

My youth (how can I say this gently) SUCKED.  I was treated like an object more than I was ever treated like a person, especially in show business but unfortunately even by some friends.  I was objectified, commodified, categorized and minimized – all because I was “young.” I ought to have been treated like a new egg with bright potential, hoping to make a difference in the world, but that rarely happened.  I was an object from which money could be made or sex could be culled.  Men of all ages (mostly older) hit on me, perhaps sensing my fragile daddy complex, and even lesbians took advantage of my complete naiveté.  I know some people saw me as strong and ambitious, but I can tell you now, I was scared shitless in total survival mode. Coming from this experience, why would I ever want to be YOUNG?

I love young people.  I thrill at being able to give them some insight.  I love being able to tell them, “I know how tough it can be, hold onto your dream, you can do it.”  I don’t feel threatened by them, whether they’re men or women.  I like children, and perhaps I will have one someday, but I have also listened carefully to my friends who say, “THINK ABOUT IT” and have paused.  I’m still thinking about it.  I have never gotten married because of one reason: I don’t want to go through a divorce.  My parents marriage and divorce was a total nightmare.  I’ve been through horrible, catastrophic, emotionally debilitating break ups, one that even sent me spiraling into a years long depression.  If getting a divorce is WORSE that THAT, I take marriage very, very seriously.

When I was a teenager my mother would tell me, “Katie, make sure to always have your own money and to make it before you are 40, because no man will want you after that, and no one will hire you.”  WHAT A MESSAGE!  What a load of bullshit.  Sadly, this message is still being put out there, causing thousands of women to feel total despair about their lives.  I’ve often thought about the 1970’s movie “Logan’s Run,” where a society creates a game out of a death machine, created to kill everyone (men and women) on their 30th birthday.  The characters would float up in the sky and literally explode.  Only Logan saw it for what it was and said, “I’m getting the f*ck out of here.”  Is it a surprise to hear me say, “I’m with Logan”?

The bottom line is this: our negative reinforcements of the stereotypes of the unhappy aging person are really uncool and yes, I believe it’s worse for women than it is for men, although it isn’t easy for either gender.

So this blog is my official shout out to all the men and women over 40,50, 60, 70 and on up.  You know, THE REST OF US.  You are NEEDED.  Society needs you to be vocal, to be present about your opinion.  We need you to NOT shrink away, shamed by your neck or balls or whatever, and for you to claim your value as people PUBLICLY.   I, personally, want to see more older women talking about what they THINK, not about what skin cream they use or what designer clothes they are wearing.  I want more older men to stop fighting each other for a power position and talk about what really MATTERS in life, and for both genders to get busy talking about how to help young people THAT AREN’T THEIR CHILDREN.

That is what older people are FOR in a society.  They are not to be locked up in some home so they can sit around watching TV and tasting 50 f*cking flavors of ice cream.  They need to be IN SOCIETY to we can HEAR what they have learned about life!

I know they are tired.  I’m tired, too, but not that tired.  I’ve been kicked in the ass more times than I would like, but I am not defeated.

COURAGE, my friends.  TAKE HEART.  Society needs you to help guide it.  To help keep it on the right track.  Don’t give up.  Vote.  Write a blog.  Start a business.  Council a kid.  It matters.  YOU matter.

So who cares about your neck?  Please.  In the larger scheme of things, it’s so unimportant.  This is why I chose a photo of Hillary Clinton for this blog.  No woman in the public eye has been more picked on for her appearance, when what really matters about her is her FABULOUS MIND.  She’s a brilliant, strong, decisive, amazing woman who is out there fighting the good fight.  I am proud to be an American with her working in public office.  So she’s aging?  WHO CARES?  That conversation is soooo boring.




10 thoughts on “The Joys of Aging

  1. Hillary Clinton’s photo is the perfect illustration for your insightful writing. I turn 65 this month, live way out in the country with my husband of 43 years and many dogs and animals we love. We spent our lives teaching in public schools, raising two children and living a good city life with many activities and interests. Now we live in semi-isolation with nature, books, visits with children and grandchildren. There probably is more we could contribute, but, frankly, Cady, we are tired, and perhaps selfish. Peace, quiet, nature and our animal friends, living a very simple life is so lovely, restful, and suits our physical limitations, which are the non-superficial part of our aging. We have experienced tragedies, disappointments, joys and accolades, but on the scale of ordinary people. Hillary Clinton is extraordinary. She inspires because while experiencing the same timeline as I have, and many of the same life experiences, and the physical manifestations of aging, she embodies the extraordinary traits of intelligence, ambition and service which makes her the role model for women of all ages. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoy your musings.

  2. I am inspired by your writing as always, Cady. It’s right on point with a lot of heart and guts. This particular post resonated with me. I am in my mid thirties, with a few years to go until 40. As a man, I have never felt the pang of not being successful both in my professional and personal life as I do now. Its almost like turning 40 is a death sentence in which everything supposedly regresses with a complete disregard for one’s value. My feminist professor associated this with social construction and the theory behind what we perceive of others. Much like the younger set, I often referred to myself as indestructible in my twenties, impervious to the aging process, or the effects that ensue.

    Perhaps the parallels of aging offer a different set of challenges for both genders, but at the end of the day, when we look into the mirror and see ourselves for who we are, that is where the real beauty lies. I too endured a horrendous youth which almost killed me twice, literally. I am still here. And, I am grateful that I was able to move past the latter and become a stronger person. I also believe the older one gets, the sexier they become. NYC misses you. Keep writing kick ass posts.

  3. Working in a nursing home. I have always looked at the resident as a human being with interests, skills stories, wisdom not because of a Age with the individual Turning 60 a few months ago, I have become more vocal about everything that matters. I don’t try and keep up with the Jones. I am who I am. If you like what you see as me great. If not. Doesn’t bother me.
    Cady. You are such a great writer with such depth. Look forward to reading more of your blog. Perhaps. I may start one myself

  4. I always knew there was a reason that I liked you so much for all these years….what a wonderful message. I’m 51, undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. My prognosis is good. I’m so looking forward to the end of my treatments so that I can continue to live a FULL life. I waited until I was 48 to get married and never had children. I don’t regret those decisions at all. I have a wonderful husband, family and friends getting me through this time. And I look forward to many adventures and travel in my 50’s and beyond, thank you very much! Thank you for continuing to inspire so many of us!

  5. As a woman who hit the big Five-Oh two weeks ago, I wholeheartedly agree that The Joys of Aging far outweigh the so-called advantages of youth. Though I have always been fiercely independent, when I look back I see that I, like most women I have known, spent my 20s proving myself to my parents and other authority figures, my 30s proving myself to my professional self and my 40s slowly, methodically backing away from anyone and anything that didn’t sync with my growing need to simply follow my bliss. You know, that thing we all say we are doing when we launch ourselves out of the nest to rediscover the world.

    With wisdom, experience and a meaningful sense of self, I step into this next phase of life with a new confidence and a solid sense of purpose.

  6. I left a reply but the internet ate it. So in fewer words, here it is – your mom and I were mistaken – but your on the right path now Baby ’cause you were born that way. Rave on.

Don't be shy, leave a reply!