I read two books that have me rethinking my approach to aging.
- Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding, by Lynn Darling – recommend for aging single women and recent empty nesters (Kindle edition)
- Losing It: In Which an Aging Professor Laments His Shrinking Brain, by William Ian Miller – recommended for realists who just want the cold hard facts of aging and an occasional laugh (Audible edition)
Before reading these two books, I was trying to find a sweet graceful approach to aging, a way of dancing through old age. I felt that a person who is gracefully aging would not be angry about growing old or feel any kind of regret or bitterness. They would not feel shock about their aging face or body or dwell on chronic illnesses. They would walk into the afterlife willingly, unafraid or angry. Graceful aging–in my mind–meant putting a smile on my face and carrying on…all the way to the end. Isn’t that what women always do…smile through it all?
I see now that the graceful aging image is a bit Pollyanna-ish. If anything, I should stop trying to put a smile on my face in response to growing old. I should embrace all the emotions, work out the issues that still haunt me, become more comfortable in my old body, deepen my spiritual pursuits, and stop seeking perfection. Then I can carry on, older and wiser. Part of aging is not responding in ways that never served us well in earlier phases of life. Aging requires something new, something different. When I define it more precisely I will share as always!