There’s an app making the rounds that analyzes selfies and projects how you will appear when you’re “old.”
It’s apparently all the thing because my social media feed is unexpectedly cluttered with images of millennials sporting crow’s feet, gray hair, and age spots. (My son sent an image of him at what I assume is my age. For some unexplained reason, he looked more like Richard Dreyfus than me. Maybe something I need to know?)
I would like to believe that this sudden fascination with aging is a positive sign that we’re embracing the inevitable, and finally celebrating the wisdom, history, and knowledge in our seniors. After all, we’ve been obsessed with youth and beauty since Adam insecurely asked Eve if his hairline was receding. Yet, I don’t think that’s the case; sadly, it’s more likely another passing fad such as ice bucket challenges, latex wristbands, or man buns.
Yet, this serves as an excellent jump-off point to remember that — especially in an aging society — there’s are larger issues at hand:
How do we prepare for our inevitable outcomes? Is there a way to change our collective view of the aging process into one of acceptance and wonder of the life cycle and — dare I say it — welcome embrace of the gift of being old? Can we remember that “beauty” is not age-specific and does not evaporate as the calendar moves onward? Can we acknowledge that that not all beautiful bodies wear bikinis and sport six-pack abs?
Recently I staggered across a video from a female internet influencer replying to a “troll” who scolded her for appearing “old” because she was unwilling to dye her hair. Apparently, this miscreant said the influencer should “take better care of herself.” Came the reply: “First of all — it’s no one’s business but mine whether I choose to color my hair.” (Bravo!) She then went on to reveal that she suffered from an incurable disease and would not make it past her sixties; she would never have the opportunity to become “old.” Summing it up, she reminded us, “Old age is a gift many of us will not receive.”
No one likes the idea of dying.
Focusing on that inevitable outcome is terrifying; we need a hard-wearing shield of denial simply to make it through the day. Yet, to that end, desperately attempting to avoid the truth, we also overlook the richness of aging, wasting our today’s lamenting yesterdays we’ll never recover, while worrying about tomorrows we all know we’ll have.