Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Bette Davis said, "Aging ain't for sissies." Others have said it too.

I hear Bette, not the million nagging voices that tell you endlessly through the day, every day, that you are old, aging, no longer qualified to take center stage, and be what's important, what people want to pay attention to right now.

Bette Davis let herself look old as she grew older; she played older women. She kept working as an actress until the end of her life. There have been other great stars before her and after her, but no one quite like her What she did as an actress was always interesting, fascinating, amazingly truthful.

All those adjectives -- I'd like them to apply to me, as I work and strive. I am sure there is no one quite like me in my world, but ... gee , like the plant in the hallway that I wrote about the other day -- my bonsai with some of its leaves becoming less glossy, fading, a few falling off -- I'm seeing age happening to myself.

So how do I handle growing older, and older and ... .older ?

Before I pulled my thoughts together, I let my fingers fly and made a list of the aging things I've noticed about ME.

It was realistic.

Well, I am not going to share it. I am not planning to call attention to all those things one can see in the mirror, usually, before anyone else sees it.

Are you a sissy if you don't grow old gracefully, or a bigger sissy if you fight like hell to stay young, look young, act young?

The age things hit you, slowly at first. A cramp, a muscle, the whistles that you used to get and are not getting now, the casual remarks friends make, that suggest that you really shouldn't try to do thus-and-so because ... well ... you might get hurt. And your checkups with your dentist, your doctor, plus the ads for medicines, the references to retiring, to buying insurance and those age categories -- over thirty five -- 40 to fifty -- fifty to retirement -- fifty to seventy. And the fact that age numbers beyond seventy are rarely mentioned -- just huzzahs and news alerts about someone very frail looking who's hanging around in his/her nineties!

Stop, stop, you want to shout, as you change the channel, or turn the page.

But talk of the future keeps echoing, and in the night, when you can't sleep, your night thoughts are not bad dreams -- they are realistic inklings, forebodings of the future.

That's tough to shuck off. It can hang over your day. That is NOT for sissies.

Advice: You can fence it out, block it off or turn negative predictions into wry, humorous exchanges. What is better is -- become the plant on your window sill, or wherever it is. Water the plant, don't over water. flick off the fading leaves, don't let a pile accumulate on top of the earth in and around the urn, in which the plant, (YOU), are growing.

We were brought up to live, and living is doing -- seeing, tasting, feeling, learning. A sissy closes off the air, the light and the outside world. If you're not a sissy, be what I call a "boldy" -- a darter, darting in and out of air, light, and whatever is beyond the surroundings of home -- dart into the mystery of the unknown.

Yes, I'm saying -- go up, not down as you age. Reach up and out, and go beyond.


Linda Phillips said...

Yes, yes, yes! ;-)

Anonymous said...

EM- I agree. Positive away the negative. You are ageless.

Alisa Calvo said...

I am afraid of growing old. More than that, I'm afraid of being dependant on others to have my basic needs met, not because I broke a bone, but for survival.
I distract myself by living life. Making the most of situations and circumstances and taking risks whenever possible. Risks include digging deep within and pulling out my innermost thoughts and feelings and writing them on paper, then actually sharing them with someone/others.
I guess I have courage, but the 'sissy' in me hopes one day I will take a risk that will prevent me from having to deal with my fear, yet people will say 'she lived her life'.

Carola said...

Yes, and remember that you may be physically worse but mentally and emotionally you are probably better. Even bouts of depression go better.