Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's Old to You?

I don't think too much about getting older. For the most part I think of it as a good thing and although I have my moments, I wouldn't trade the benefits of self-acceptance for the advantages of youth. Still, some parts of aging are harder to take than others.

A few years ago I went for an eye exam and was told by the doctor I had the eyesight of a thirty year old woman. This pleased me to no end as I confessed to him that I did not want to wear glasses as that would be the milestone that would make me feel old.

The doctor was at bit older (and wiser.) He assured me I did not need glasses yet, "BUT," he said, "I suggest you find something else to feel old about because sooner or later you are going to need glasses, at the very least, for reading."

"But not today," I said as I enjoyed three more blissful years of reading fine print, menus by candlelight, and emails on my phone.

A few weeks ago, I was engrossed in a biography of Dorothea Lange and noticed it was hard for me to get into reading at night. That nagging voice told me it might help if I put on some magnifiers. I told myself my eyes were tired and since I had no problems reading in the morning but come nightfall it was a struggle.

I put on a pair of magnifiers I got just in case this day would come and presto I could see clearly. And just like that I was old.

I could lie to you and say it doesn't bother me, but it does. I accepted sagging skin, drooping body parts, gray hair, strange spots, night sweats, and falling asleep on the couch before eleven o'clock. I understand what is happening to my body and for the most part I am happy with how well I am holding up -- that is until I put on the glasses. It's only a matter of time before I wear my glasses on a chain around my neck and stuff tissues in the sleeve of my sweater just like Grandma Coyne used to do - -hell -- I got her flabby upper arms I might as well have her eyesight too.

I'll get over it. Just like I got over all the other transitions. And like most aspects of aging, when you consider the alternative -- adapting is always better than perishing.

Dealing with aging is a lot about wrestling with your pride and vanity. I don't want gray hair -- it doesn't look good on me so I color mine -- but I cannot give up reading just to appear to not need glasses.

The only thing worse than wearing glasses was having a book in my hands and not being able to read it. Reading is one of the great loves of my life and there is no end to what we are willing to do for love. I guess I'll just have to pick something else to feel old about...

Any suggestions?

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