For more than a decade I’ve been immersed in the topic of aging. I filmed 7 women over the age of 80 for my documentary film project, The Beauty of Aging. I stayed friends with several of the women, Hedda, Shirley & Lavada in particular, until their deaths, valuing both them and the lessons they taught about getting older. For sure, having a good attitude was among the highest priorities for all the women: http://www.beautyofaging.com
I read many books and studies about aging. I’ve followed different sites on Facebook. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Like most things in life, varied opinions abound about how to look at getting older.
Dr. Mario Martinez has written extensively and studied centenarians. He believes that we should not tell our age and not be focused on a number. He reports that centenarians are future oriented, vitally engaged, don’t go to doctors and don’t talk about aging.
On the other hand, some feminist writers believe that denial of age is ageism, not accepting old age as a time to be revered and accepted. They purport that we live in a youth oriented culture that denies and rejects the older person. Some say that we should use the words old woman, for instance, and be proud.
Dr. Christiane Northrup has a brand new book called “Goddesses Never Age.” I have not yet read this book but a summary says, “Agelessness is all about vitality, the creative force that gives birth to new life…the state of our health is dictated far more by our beliefs than our biology.”
As a woman who has just entered my 7th decade, I relate to all of the above. When my attitude is poor, I feel worse. I’m sure I’m not much fun to be around either. When I can see the gifts in all of my life, both joys and challenges, I feel better. I’m not denying getting older by not calling myself an old woman, nor am I feeling badly about using the terminology of aging. In today’s world of extended longevity, I’m not even sure what I think old is? I believe it’s more about energy than a number.
For me, at all stages of life it’s about how we can connect with our own vitality while also respecting times when we feel less energized. It’s not an age thing; it’s a person thing. Certainly I’m aware that I am closer to my own death than my birth, but the question remains, how can I best use this time to feel good, be of service, and enjoy life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions.