aging… doing it gracefully, humorously and gratefully

morning glory, being hopeful, aging gracefully

“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
— Betty Friedan (1921 – 2006, American feminist writer and activist)

I love soft lighting and I used to read or do my embroidery in soothing soft lights in the evenings. Things however, started to change when I reached one of the big milestones in life. A friend once told me that when we turned 40, our eyesight would deteriorate and presbyopia, the inability to focus our eyes on objects up close especially in dim light would set in. I heard him but I just was not prepared for it to happen to me almost overnight after I turned 40.

I am short-sighted and I was pretty upset when I realised my short-sightedness and presbyopia did not neutralise each other to give me 20-20 vision so that I could ditch my glasses. Then I got myself a pair of multi-focal glasses that people would not be able to tell the difference from normal glasses, unlike those with a small square in the bottom of the lenses that were common during our childhood days, and my whole world was changed when I was able to see things in a new perspective, literally!

The other day a good friend of mine came to my place to help take a few photos of me for official use on my request. We did that for the obvious reason that we could take as much time as we liked for the best shots. I looked at the end results, perfect photography skill and lighting except my slightly but obvious sagging cheeks. That is another sign that certain muscles on my body are losing their elasticity.

And my memory? Well… I had a few incidents where I opened the cabinet or wardrobe doors then I got distracted and walked away with the doors open and when I came back, I gave myself a fright when a particular scene from the movie Sixth Sense came to mind! Recently I went for lunch with a colleague and when we were about to make a complaint that our food never arrived after more than half an hour, we stopped short when we realised we never placed our order to start with! We burst out laughing and my colleague shook his head and said, “Senior moment!” Of course in the end our only complaint was aimed at the inattentive waiters.

Our body shows the wear and tear even ever so slightly just like anything else in life. The difference is some people experience it earlier or more severely than the others. It is simply the law of nature. Losing the enjoyment of doing intricate embroideries in dim light was the first sign that I am aging but my presbyopia was easily corrected by a pair of well-prescribed spectacles. When I see friends putting their reading materials further and further away from them so that they can read properly, I laugh with them.

At this time and age where everyone takes pictures of practically everything, my friends and my vanity remind me to learn a few poses where my best profile can be captured and my heart-shaped face is more pronounced. And the good thing with smartphones and digital cameras is we can always delete a bad shot and retake as many times as possible to our heart’s content, and do it with a good laugh. I am not one who would forsake the face God has created with my parents’ genes by injecting something artificial for temporary beauty. I might colour my splendour grey hair but I would never change my face, my imperfect but unique face. Just like the fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg said in her memoir The Woman I Wanted to Be, “My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?”

I remember I was excited when I reached forty despite of the affected eyesight and in fact, I still am today another decade on as life is never stagnant and it holds so much potential. I complain of aches and pains at times and have been to the Chinese chiropractor/bone-setter a few times to address trapped nerves in recent months and even had a minor procedure done to release my trigger finger not long ago, or scare myself with the opened cabinet doors, I know I generally am in good health and active, and my mind is still as agile and sharp as ever.

“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age.”
— Thomas B. Aldrich (1836 – 1907, American writer and poet)

There are no rules or stereotyped definition for what one at a certain age can or cannot do. I had a career change after I turned 50 and moved to another city to start a new chapter of my life. I have never stopped exploring. I might be going on with my life at a slower pace than many but I walk surefootedly and take in the scenery along the way as I walk in my own rhythm.

Getting more mature year by year has its many benefits too. My temperament has mellowed over the years which I like it a lot as I am cooler and calmer in most circumstances, and I have learnt to exhale. I would like to think I have more poise now than ever before. I also have learnt not to hold grudges, I forgive others, some easily and some take longer time and I forgive myself. Going easy about most things and looking at them light-heartedly as situations warrant is also a good thing. Laughter and humour change our attitude and soften our approach.

When the day is done and irrespective of how it turns out, I remain hopeful. I never forget to count my blessings from the Almighty who holds things and me together by being my provider for all that I need to guide me through the day and every day.

Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

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