I saw that headline atop this story a few days ago and of course my first reaction was anger. But then I read the article, and this comment by the writer, Lee Zimmerman, touched me:
Young people don’t have a monopoly on zest, enjoyment, adventure… Sure, energy and enthusiasm may wane as we get older, but the primal urges that stir our psyche — especially when it comes to the music that moves us — continues to create a bond. At a certain age, it transitions from a rallying cry into nostalgia, allowing the music of our memories to exert a powerful grasp… Perhaps more than ever.
Do you ever find yourself next to an elderly person and wonder who he used to be? Do you ever take a minute to think that behind that crevassed face and stooped posture is a person who once leapt for joy, cashed his first paycheck, fell in love, and maybe raised a family?
Behind the looks, implies Zimmerman, is an artist whose years of experience could only yield greater depth of creative expression, topped by the sweetness and bite of nostalgia. How could their music be any less wonderful than it was in their youth?
Don’t poison what is with regrets about what was.
Is that even possible? Sure, looks aren’t everything, but they’re a lot. The beauty of youth suggests power: strong backs, flexible knees, supple dendrites, powerful voices. (Did you know the reason elderly folks’ voices get high and thin is because the collagen in their throats dissipates? Yep. Like everything else.)
Thing is, you can’t let it get to you. You’re still here. You have to respect your life! Wring the value and the blessings from it.
Besides, trying to judge yourself on society’s standards is a game you can’t win. Here’s an article about how fashion designers are now using 13-year-old models. Seems the 16-year-old girls were too big, what with having passed puberty and all.
When our culture declines to the point of preferring a little girl’s body over that of a normal, grown woman, I’m opting out of the fashion zeitgeist. Declare victory and go home. As the computer said, the only way to win is not to play.
I mean, I get the concept of “aspirational.” I don’t necessarily want to see a model who looks like me. Where’s the challenge to improve myself? But 13?
I make fun of More magazine once in a while (“This is what 4o+ looks like!” Right.) But I like the editor, Lesley Jane Seymour. If you read between the lines of her monthly editorial letters in the magazine, you definitely sense her frustration in trying to serve us. Her readers want to see real models, but they also want to be inspired by what might be possible. It’s a thin line to walk.
Aging is a bummer, no question. Bodies break down. My mom has been through so much in the past 18 months. Broken leg, follow-up surgery when the pain wouldn’t stop, cataract surgery, removal of a basal cell thingy on her face that required reconstructive surgery. I drive her to all her doctor appointments, and after surgery I usually stay with her. We’ve experienced it together, for better and worse.
Yesterday she chipped a tooth. I said, “Thank God you didn’t need a root canal.” She said if that had been the case, she would have sat down and shot herself. I told her it would have been a murder suicide. We laughed so hard we had to hang up.