There are many issues with which we Boomers have to deal, and none is unique to a particular generation, ours or anyone else’s. This legion of things I never considered twenty or thirty years ago pretty much sneaked up on me, an army marching toward me in stocking feet. And, as I pondered new physical, emotional, and intellectual realities, repeating over and over, “What in the world is going on, here?”; feeling alone and isolated became ever-present, day and night. A lifelong habit of dealing with personal matters by myself, not wishing to trouble others with what I called my momentary light afflictions, became increasingly challenging, because whatever was happening, unlike everything previously, was not going away. Then it slowly dawned on me, of course things were not going away; I was aging, and this was the result.
It actually was embarrassing to realize how much time had been spent trying to figure out what the problems were; because, when I had my epiphany, I knew just where it all was leading, and what mattered from then on was not so much what was happening, but how I would manage it. Some things will never allow avoidance, nor will they permit denial to alter the outcome. Being authentic is important to me, so deciding to travel this leg of my journey with transparency and honesty seemed the only choice consistent with how I have lived up to this point. Yes, aging had become self-evident, and now was the time to do it well, and throw a good portion of grace into the mix.
I fault no one for covering up the grey, or having a bit of botox injected here or there; even a nip or tuck is at anyone’s disposal, if that is the cosmetic path one would prefer. These options would not work for me, though, because having never seen myself as pretty, preserving or reversing something not there to start with seems a bit like tilting at a vanity windmill. And, I do not like pain, so those options which include the use of needles or knives would not be my choice.
Physically and intellectually, we can access all the exercise and mentally stimulating activities that are guaranteed to prolong our physical and mental health, and the best part is they are free. Personally, I like walking, small weight lifting, and stretching; for the intellectual aspect, the glory of every community, the public library. It is the gateway to any information one could find in books, periodicals, journals; a resource for workshops, seminars, programs; a place to access computers or check out DVDs or CDs. I learned to love a library as a small child, and have never lost the wonder I hold for the privilege of having a library card; my passport to everything I would like to learn, or every story I would like to read.
One final thought on this condition we call aging, and a temporary reprieve from the stark reality of who we are becoming: I inadvertently discovered the Mirror of Erised in our kitchen. That’s right. Not at all like the distorted reflections one gets in the Hall of Mirrors at a carnival; this is so much better. As I stood in the middle of our kitchen, thinking about the cleverness of the person who came up with spaghetti noodles made from mung beans, I slowly began focusing on my reflection in the glossy black doors of the refrigerator. There I was, head to toe, the slim, wrinkle free, dark haired, athletic version of myself. I will admit it; I said “Wow!” Then I chuckled, remembering Professor Dumbledore telling Harry Potter the Mirror of Erised would show the “deepest and most desperate desire of one’s heart”. I do not believe looking like anything other than who I now am is a deep or desperate desire of my heart; however, I confess I did say “Wow”, so I may just go back for another peek tomorrow.