Recently I’ve heard several people in their late 20s commenting on the effects of aging on their bodies. That may seem silly to people that are older, but these are legitimate observations. Our bodies do change with age.
For some of this, we should be thankful. I listen to some funny radio stations including Opie Radio on Sirius XM. Pretty much those guys sit around talking about bodily functions and sex. Recently they discussed their first bouts with masturbation.
Some began at the typical age of 12 years old, while one guy waited until he was 18. “Then I went crazy,” he admitted. “I had to go to the doctor for bursitis in my arm. The Doc asked what could have caused an overuse injury. There was no way I was telling him.” He blamed his delay on his deep Catholic upbringing, proving repression is never much of a solution to anything.
Thankfully that level of hormonal disturbance abates (pun intended) at some age. Not necessarily with rapid speed, but sooner or later the hormones give way to other things, like making a living.
Mixed in with the physical strata is our drive to exercise. Those of us who run, ride and swim carefully observe the form our bodies take from all that exercise. We like to keep our weight down, for example. A six pack of abs would be nice. Same with sleek, strong thighs and strong shoulders.
All these things are generally possible as we age. A healthy body functions better as well. We don’t slouch or shuffle as we walk. Our activities aren’t reduced due to poor muscle tone.
That process truly begins in the 30s, that stage when we transition from youthful bodies to bodies that must be exercised to be maintained. Youth is wonderful, but aging is reality.
Women that go through childbirth experience double the challenge of “getting their body back.” It’s not always possible to come through pregnancy without some source of consternation. Many women gain “baby weight” that is hard to shed. And men, they are known to gain sympathetic poundage in sync with their wives. Or so goes the excuse. The weekend softball tournament no longer is enough to work off the six beers consumed after the game.
So we all have our challenges in terms of body image.
But it isn’t just image. Not by a long stretch. Some of us long for better performance. And through our 30s, we’re generally able to train our way to PRs or something like that. But then something begins to happen deep within our cells. We don’t process oxygen as fast as we once did. Our hearts also can no longer reach the peak of output we once were able to attain. As a result, we slow down a little. Year by year we try to kick age to the curb, but it comes crawling back in those winter months unless we hit the gym, keep the weight down and torture ourselves with indoor FTP sessions on a stationary bike.
It’s all part of aging gracefully, or something like that.
There comes a point where even a fit body refuses to look young in some spots. Our faces change, and there are no pushups for our chins and necks. Except surgery, perhaps, and that’s an option some people choose. If it works, more power to them. Because looking young is more than a hobby in so many stations in life. Ageism is a harsh reality. People who look the age of fifty or older sometimes can’t get hired in positions for which they are qualified. They’re judged to be “too old” for the job, or they don’t “fit the culture” of the company, which is essentially the same as saying “you’re too old.”
How strange it is that the CEOs of most companies are in their late fifties or sixties, and have plenty of capability and innovation left in their brains to make things work. Or that the new Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is in his late 50s, almost considered young for such a position. So society is not consistent about these things, just as it is inconsistent about matters of race, gender or sexual orientation. That makes it almost more difficult to figure out the target or the goal of our pursuits.
The idea that showing your age (or gender, or race, or orientation) is a negative is the direct the product of a narcissistic society. Narcissism stems from generally poor self-esteem, which stems from poor management of self-worth and conflicted values.
Those fearful of being exposed for these contradictions in purpose grow to harbor secrets. These lurk beneath their public persona. To hide them, they grow to admire their own courage in defying other people opportunities out of jealousy or some sense of manufactured superiority. They grow cliquish in finding others holding the same fears. In groups they grow to admire those who seem to have no such fears. That’s how we get racist and hate groups, and why the disenfranchised have been known to pick up guns and blow away those able to function normally. It’s all about narcissism.
The same sickness lurks in the souls of those who worship apparently ageless, wealthy individuals. It is our task as human beings not to fall into these traps, where the soul can get sucked out of you, and your real hopes become fodder for the socially and politically powerful.
Aging gracefully is about having the will to be strong, and peaceful, in the face of such soul-sucking narcissism. And God Bless you for that.