Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aging gracefully

I just read an article from the 'Living' section of The Huffington Post about aging gracefully - the premise is that keeping the spine flexible through yoga is key. Okay, I can buy that. Flexibility is definitely important to feeling and looking youthful. But I'm pretty sure there's more to it than that.

The model they've used in the article to demonstrate the recommended yoga pose is no more than twenty-eight years old tops, and that's only if you push me. She's slim and pretty with thick, glossy hair. She's doing the extreme version of the pose - the one we all think we are doing, until we watch ourselves in the mirror and discover that we look a lot more like a coffee table going up and down than a cat arching and stretching its back.

So, this model looks gloriously youthful and graceful, because she is.

But let's talk about the reality of aging. Slim - not so much. There's this thing that happens to your waist - it thickens, even while you're eating and exercising as you always did. Pretty - not so much. There's this thing that happens to your face - it sags in places and puffs in others. You get eye-bags and jowls, and your cheeks seem to fall towards your jaw line, which is itself heading down towards your neck, which is so determined to go south that it pushes out amoeba-like bulges which wobble horribly under your chin. Thick, glossy hair - not so much. Your part - should you be so foolish as to attempt to wear a part in your hair - gets wider and wider. And gray hair is wiry and unruly and it doesn't shine.

Your joints get stiff: hips, knees, fingers, spines. You can't get comfortable enough to sleep at night because your newly-fragile body seems to have developed aversions to every sleeping position known to man. And once you've learned to counter that problem by propping various body parts up with pillows, you discover that there's some kind of sleep circuit in your brain which has shorted out.

Your gums recede, which makes your teeth appear to be longer. (Yes, you're getting a little long in the tooth...) This also creates sensitive spots which keep you hopping during dentist visits. And, to add insult to injury, your enamel thins, resulting in a warm yellow smile. You can remedy that problem with those at-home whitening strips, but you'll pay with even more sensitive spots than Mother Nature (that cruel bitch) has already allotted you.

There's quite a lot I haven't covered - your thighs slide down to puddle over your knees and your boobs start getting in the way of your belt; your satiny skin turns to crepe paper; things you used to love to eat make you fart now; and sitting in the sun will turn your skin blotchy brown - forever. Your nails form ridges. Your blood pressure goes up; your libido goes down. First you need glasses to read books; then you need glasses to read street signs. (Yeah, that spells bifocals.) You start to say, "What?" all the time. You have to label all your photos so you can remember your friends' kids' names. Receptionists ask if you need help getting out of your chair.

Now, if doing the cat pose once a day, or three times, or - heck, I'm willing to go as high as twenty! - will reverse these changes, then I'm thrilled to hear it. But I think the real issue is completely different. There's nothing - no pill, no surgery, no cream or makeup, no diet or exercise - which will restore our bodies to youthful perfection. So, in an article entitled "How to Age Gracefully," I think what we need is advice on enduring, on watching ourselves go to pieces with grace and good humor. I'd offer my advice, but as you can see, I haven't got any. I'm stuck at griping about the whole damn process.

Update: I edited this to add some stuff I forgot about.


~Sia McKye~ said...

LMAO! Oh God, ain't it the truth! And why can't they use a model that is closer to the age they are trying to encourage? That never made sense to me.

Coffee table? Last time I looked in the mirror, it was more like a beach ball or a football, lol!

I've got all kinds of nifty pillows to do the propping...

I will continue to bitch about the whole process, damn it! Maybe when I'm 90 I'll stop complaining--I'll be too worn out by then to give a hoot. :-)

McMama said...

Thank you, Sia. It's good to know that griping is acceptable. I'm always on edge, waiting for the next delightful discovery. What? You lose your sense of smell? (It happened to my Dad...)

I'm thinking of you and your family and spring storms and the farm. Let the gods of thunder give you a break today!

aries18 said...

I laughed until my sides ached as I read your list of symptoms of aging. I laughed because I have them all and then some! Aging is only for the tough. The worst thing for me is my mind still thinks it's about 16. I mean, I've grown up, grown older, yes but I still feel like I'm about 16... yes, truly I do. Maybe I'm just terminally immature. LOL

Thanks for giving me some good laughs today.

VA said...

Oh dear...I am so entering this moment. *rolls eyes.

The obsession with the Fountain of Youth in this country is obscene. Truly, do any of us want to be 19, what age that model probably is again? I think not. Yet, somehow we feel as if we should resemble that image - still.

Men can age, well so can women. A few years back my eighty-some odd year stepmother wanted me to drive by the pharmacy for her. problem. What did she want? A refill, some vitamins, or muscle relaxant? No...the new KY his and hers jelly. Whoa! Good for you mom!Btw... my dad had been dead for some years at this point. She asked if it upset me, I told her he would be happy if she enjoyed what time she had. Just as she would have wanted for him.

Thank goodness there are real women, living real lives. California is not kind to aging Cathy. Celebrate you've worked for it. :)

VA said...

Were you really reading "The Huffington Post?" Ariana doesn't seem to be your cup of tea.

Judi Fennell said...

Well, there's always the flip side: NOT getting to experience all this doo-doo which means you'd be six feet under.

I'll take the sagging, bulging, aches and pains over the permanent sleep, thankyouverymuch.

But, yeah, a 19 year old model? Puh-leaze!!

Oh, and I HIGHLY recommend a Sleep Number bed. My number is 25. The bed stops at 20, so, yes, I am sleeping in a depression, but my hips don't hurt when I wake up, so I'll keep sleeping in the depression. :)

McMama said...

Sleep Number, eh, Judi? I've also heard that the memory foam beds are good, but that they can be too hot in the summer.

Viv, I salute your stepmother! And yes, I do read the HuffPo. Everyday. It's got a mix of articles in its Politics and Media sections - left-leaning, but with some centrist opinions thrown in. And the Living and Style sections are just that - not political and occasionally interesting. I'm fascinated by the photo essays on various fashion weeks - anorexic models sporting outlandish and often clownish outfits, to ecstatic applause from an audience which has either parted company with common sense, or has gone collectively blind. Who can resist?

Aries, we aims to please. :-)


bettyk said...

Oh, Cathy:
I can relate to this all too well. And getting nipped and tucked is rather chancy as I've seen some really bad jobs. So the best thing to console yourself with is the thought that, as bad as aging is, it beats the alternative.

Other Lisa said...

Oh, this is wonderful! Can we at least get wisdom as we age? I mean, that might be kinda cool, don't you think?

McMama said...

Lisa, you make an excellent point. The truth is, if I had to choose between how I looked then and what I know now, I'd have to pick the saggy, baggy, wiser now.