Life TherapyTM
Psychotherapy & Coaching + Mindfulness & Meditation

How do you feel about aging?

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
Walking out of the gym this morning, I ran into a childhood friend who I had known from my days of little league soccer.   Memories of my youth jogged back to me upon seeing him—us running around the soccer field chasing the ball, with little or no conception of exactly what we were doing, yet having a great time while doing it.  We greeted each other with a handshake and made a little small talk before departing.
While speaking to my long-time friend, I noticed him looking at my face.  I noticed his eyes fix upon my forehead, dart to my eyes, then up to my head.  He made no commentary on my appearance, but walking away from this unexpected reunion, I could not help but notice my conscious focus on my facial features.  I walked up to my car and looked at my reflection in my tinted Toyota window.  What did he see? More importantly, what did I see? I saw the slight puffiness under my eyes, the lines in my forehead when I furrowed my brow, the shortcomings of my hairline… In short I became cognizant of all of the features that I was aging—running into my friend of 24 years called my age to my consciousness.
I immediately thought of several things.  One was all of the creams, tonics, and potions that are used to keep young, overwhelmingly marketed to women, but now being more aggressively marketed to men. I quietly asked myself, should I begin using these products, especially the more expensive ones that have even more dramatic promises?  The thought flashed through my mind and I allowed it to roll around there.  My thoughts then went to plastic surgery.  I thought about people who daily undergo the painful and sometimes botched transformations ushered in by a surgeon’s knife.  In that moment I did not consider surgery, but the sharp anxiety and desire to maintain and reclaim outer youthfulness washed over me; an anxiety probably felt by all who have undergone plastic surgery.
My mind then jumped back to my face, the lines, the etches and the smile marks around my cheeks.  I thought about them.  I thought about what I had done to earn these markers of years, and my face began to round into a smile, filling in the same crease marks that just moments ago I had, for a moment, questioned the value of.  I thought about the times in college that I spent depressed.  I thought about the anxiety that I held through my early twenties.  I thought of all the tears shed just three years ago when my father passed.  I thought of all of those painful, grueling yet necessary moments, and I realized that my face bore tinges of those experiences.  However, most importantly my face held the triumph of my now, my contented and joyous present feelings—my face held those too and I was most grateful for that.
Do I have flaws, both physical and emotional? Yes, we all do.  Do I have things I wish I could improve upon myself physically? Yes, but altering those lines on my face, those distinguishing marks, my badges of honor would be erasing and denying what I have been through.  In thinking about my triumph, in thinking about my current state, I smiled and realized like tree rings, these markers only mean I am growing stronger, my roots deeper and my branches taller—reaching towards the sky.
How do you see your aging marks?

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