Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!
Let’s go with a lighter (or at least, grayer) note today: Yes, You Get Wiser With Age. Excerpt:
There are three domains of aging: Physical, cognitive, and psycho-social. Most people think about aging as physical aging, and that’s why there is a negative perception about aging and a bias against aging. In terms of cognition, again, there is something similar. Starting after middle age, say around 60 or so, memory and other abilities decline. However, psychosocial aging is really important, and that is usually not studied and that is not included in the concept of aging.
So what is psychosocial aging? It includes things like well-being, happiness, quality of life, control of emotions, socialization. Those are the kinds of things that matter a lot to people, and they need to be included. Successful aging mainly refers to better well-being, greater happiness, and not just arriving at old age, but thriving and even flourishing.
Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on these three domains of aging.
First, the physical: Nothing can (yet) be done about this. But I’m in favor of doing so gracefully. There’s nothing wrong with acting your age, and there is something mildly silly about a middle-aged person trying to dress and act like a teenager. I wonder if it’s because the popular culture of our time, at least here in the States, glamorizes youth? That may well be; us gray-haired old farts don’t automatically get the overt displays of respect we do in, say, Japan. Personally, though, I’m rather proud of my gray hairs. I earned every damn one of ’em.
Third: The psychosocial. I admit to not really having thought of this as a separate realm of aging, but there’s some logic to it. There’s a reason they call them the golden years, after all. Granted they aren’t golden for everyone, but youth isn’t a basket of roses for everyone, either.
Mine are shaping up to be pretty damn good, though. I’ve achieved a certain level of financial success; Mrs. Animal and I are in good health, we have a wonderful marriage, our kids and grandkids are thriving. We have big plans for semi-retirement and, at the moment, the future looks pretty damn good.
Aging is something that comes to all of us, whether we would or no. But while it would be nice to have the brain I have now in the body I had at twenty (and the energy I had at three) that’s not an option.
So of these three aspects of aging, there’s only one that we can control. Fortunately that’s the one that can yield the best bits of those golden years.
As Robert Browning said: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”