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Saturday, December 04, 2004

What a pleasant surprise ...

to check into my pages this morning and find that the Google Adsense team has pulled the inappropriate ad and replaced it with clickable ones that are far more fitting.

Been thinking about the potential we have here of broadening the concept of what it means to age without withdrawing from the world. I'm sure that I'm far from alone in remaining contemporary and involved and continuing to have an impact on the status quo. I suspect that the major difference may be that many women who've defied time in much the same way have done so by claiming to be younger than their driver's license admits. A nip and a tuck here and there, and ''voila!" instant youth retention! In that way, younger women lose the opportunity to learn that aging can be as fascinating a time of life as any other -- and that vitality doesn't necessarily disappear when your first social security check arrives. Dementia isn't necessarily the natural result of accumulating years, but is an anomoly of our times for reasons unknown. That's unfortunate for those who follow us, and who need to know that.

The advantages that continuing to grow and evolve intellectually are that one's spirituality and perspective can grow as well, with a deepening of everything one has been all along -- only now everything is the more precious as we face our mortality and the acceptance of the fact that life is finite. The sense of urgency sharpens the edge of existence and makes poetic those things that were at one time merely ordinary. How I wish I'd known that when it was still years ahead -- I had no recognizable models in my own life.

And, I'm still loving and being loved, wearing black lace lingerie, reading Vogue and Elle -- still reading the New Yorker right along with Arandahti Roy, Noam Chomsky, and The Nation. I'm also slowly experiencing the graying of hair and the crumpling of skin -- with those strange little age spots on my cheeks that I'm told were always there but are only now rising to visibility. It feels strange to look into the mirror to watch my mother brushing her teeth! My muscle tone has only recently begun to soften but my body retains its youthfulness, probably from jumping in and out of my car (surely not from formal exercise though I keep promising myself that I'll join a yoga class, soon).

The only time I'm really aware of the changes are those times when I see photos of myself taken ten or so years ago. The changes are profound, though they surely don't feel so. Working with my wedding pictures recently (I was a little over fifty) -- trying to put them into my blog -- I was moved by how young "she" appeared. Funny, but it really does feel like "someone I once knew." But we share great memories, and somewhere inside she still exists and moves into the forefront to take over "the bod" at a few strains of an old song or when I find myself in "woman" rather than "mother" or "public servant" mode. That complexity is shared by us all, I'm sure, but the awareness of it may be unique to fewer of us.

I will probably never be accused of living "the unexamined life."

And I'm certainly not alone. There are probably as many versions of eldering as there are of adolescense or forty-something-itis. Despite all attempts at ghetto-izing this stage in life into age-specific lobbies, communities, and services, some of us insist upon the right to contribute the fruits of our maturity into the mix; to remain in the mainstream of life in the work force where and when possible -- while being the patrons of the arts and sciences and the tutors and mentors of the young.

There are those of us who will continue until we're all used up -- and then we'll donate our remains to science labs so that nothing is left to bury or incinerate!

And what a way to go!

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