“Well aged” or “old”?

“Well aged” or “old”?

photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

We live in a culture that lionizes youth. The logic of that is simply not there. What does “looking young” have to do with anything important?

A big reason for our continued obsession with this silliness has nothing to do with beautiful people. It’s easier to sell to young people–for whom fitting in is highly valued. Getting what everyone else is getting, wearing what everyone else is wearing is important.

It is a whole lot easier to sell stuff if everyone wants the same thing. So we have an entire advertising industry and the retailers it serves furthering this perception that “Looking young is essential.”

But looking young is nothing. It doesn’t get you a good job–because you don’t have experience. It doesn’t find you the perfect mate–because you don’t yet understand what you really need. It doesn’t even guarantee you freedom from bad hair days.

As we age, we become more unique. This is not a bad thing. But it’s inconvenient for commerce. Instead of convincing the masses they all want that one special thing you are selling, a seller has to figure out what each person wants and offer that. It’s a lot easier to accomodate individual differences with online retailing. So no surprise that as a culture, we’ve been moving in that direction. But the big emphasis on youth remains the driver in advertising and fashion articles.

Which brings us back to “aging well” versus “getting old.” The value of a life increases as it proceeds. You know more. You have more experience with how to handle problems. You’ve been through tough times that make you more resilient. At least if you are aging well. If you are just trudging along, resigned to the idea of getting old and not putting effort into becoming ever more of yourself, none of that may be true.

This is a choice. We all make it, either intentionally or by default. It’s the height of folly to think we can be something other than human–that we can remain young by buying the right creams, getting the right procedures done, taking the right supplements, and wearing the right clothes. No one is going to stay young! (This in itself should be a strong argument for not relegating “older adults” to some unacceptable, invisible trash pile. We are all going there–if we are lucky enough to live that long.)

How you age is your call. Are you going to make yourself a masterpiece with what you learn and the refinements you make to who you are? Or are you going to go into the dumpster of “old” with both arms full of potions and lotions, receipts for spa treatments and youth hormones falling from your pockets, and a crotchety curse on your lips?

Becoming well aged is just that–becoming. That means you are still growing. And that is how to stay young.

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