June 19, 2008

Older? Yes. Wiser? Probably Not

As I mentioned the other day, I got all my hair cut off. Okay, not all, but a hell of a lot of it. What I neglected to mention, though, was the fact that, as it was falling into little hair piles on the floor, I saw something monumentally horrific. It was all gray. Fucking gray hair. I also haven't mentioned that I'm having a damn hard time reading lately. I need to break out my trusty reading glasses. Yes, I said reading glasses. Shut up. Thank god my shingles have at least temporarily subsided. The last thing I need right now is the recurrence of a disease that most frequently occurs in those 65 and older. I feel like I'm just seconds away from telling meddling kids to stay off my lawn (or I'm one step away from being the villain in an episode of Scooby Doo) and my new favorite question is "what?"

What I'm getting at here is that, occasionally, I'm reminded that I'm getting older. And I'm not happy about it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy that I have this aging problem as opposed to the alternative (dirt nap). Being older is a good problem to have. But it scares me. There are a few people in my family whose bodies are lasting far longer than their minds. And it's not pleasant to watch and is somewhat disturbing to imagine myself suffering the same fate. But that's the state of modern medicine. As my favorite comedian Patton Oswalt once said, "science - all about the coulda, not the shoulda."

Surely I'm not alone here, right? I'm not the only one either feeling a little older or fearing what's in store as I get a little older. How has your outlook on life changed as you've grown older? And what are you not looking forward to about growing old? And what do you most want to do before you get too old? (Apparently I start asking lots of questions as I grow older.)

Posted by Chris at June 19, 2008 6:28 AM

i never told anyone when i turned 27 (said i was gonna be 28 it was just such an odd number for me) couldn't wait to turn 42...if i followed in my mom's footsteps...that was when she started to shine...and it was such a good year for me! i hit double nickles last year (finally qualify for ihop senior discount)the older i get, the less other people's opinions bother me...and the more i can say it out loud...i started in my IT department as one of a group of the youngest and have worked until my own manager is old enough to be my son, and i am the oldest in the department...and he thinks i'm kinda old cuz of his own parents and is "amazed" that i have managed to keep up with the technology - 55+ old? all depends... on how you look at life... and i love it!

Posted by: the unicorn at June 19, 2008 7:11 AM

I hate getting older. I used to write a newsletter for a retirement/nursing facility and everytime I came out of there I would swear to myself that me, my car, the hose and the garage would all visit one day before I ended up in a place like that.

I do believe that you can age gracefully though and your outlook dictates the quality in many ways.

Posted by: Debbie at June 19, 2008 7:38 AM

I'm 34 and I am going through a lot of the same things. I have always had a young look and fortunately, I have blonde hair and my gray (if I even have any) does not show up. I do notice a lot of other stuff, like not being able to stay up as late or I will be unable to function the next day, struggling with my eyesight (similiar to you), growing hair on my shoulders and back (my biggest dislike), and not getting carded for beer. As a matter of fact, the other day I was buying a six pack and the cashier carded me. I played along and thanked her for making me feel young and her reply was, I have to check your ID because you paid by credit card.

Posted by: harrylips at June 19, 2008 7:42 AM

No you aren't alone. My simple answer is that I'm scared I'm going to die and no one will notice that I've been here ... that I even lived. My goal is to find peace within myself soon.

If it makes you feel better, my mother is 67 and I'm 41. I have twice as much silver/white as she does.

Posted by: Maria at June 19, 2008 7:47 AM

Okay, since the hot-flashes are coming upon me "hot and heavy", I can write first hand about getting old.
Just when I have so much of life figured out, when I can actually enjoy certain things that used to stress me, when I can read a book cover to cover without the interruption of screaming kids...the oldness comes upon me!
Yes, I've got reading glasses stashed all over the house, I take Tylenol Arthritis for painful joints,and because I am really not into this gray hair thing, I go every 4 weeks and get a dye job.
Getting old-er sucks, but better than a dirt nap anyday, unless it is a mud bath! LOL!

Posted by: Maribeth at June 19, 2008 7:59 AM

You know what sucks? The Grey hair. Yeah, I only have found 2 so far, but I'll be going in on Tuesday to get the whole mess colored (vanity? Um, maybe a bit).

But it's more of the other stuff. I went to a concert last night (Jack Johnson - it was awesome) and had a great time - but noticed all the young drunk people puking around me. Now, I'm not so sure I *ever* thought that was fun... but now I think to myself, "Who spends $50+ on a night out and pukes thru the whole thing?" That makes me feel old.

Posted by: Sarah at June 19, 2008 8:03 AM

That's exactly why I decided I was turning thirty-ten this year and not that other number. You're right though--getting old is better than the alternative.

Posted by: Darren at June 19, 2008 8:14 AM

I've worn reading glasses since I was 16. And have another eye test tomorrow. Crap, crappity, crap.

Posted by: Talking Budgie at June 19, 2008 8:16 AM

Um yeah, I just colored all of my hair because I was going gray. At 33.

Posted by: jodifur at June 19, 2008 8:21 AM

I LOVE Patton Oswalt! Have you seen Comedians of Comedy? Comedy gold.

I've been a much happier, more successful and grounded person since 35 so I don't mind aging, and actually enjoy being older. That said, I try not to look too far ahead. Plus, medicine has decades to advance before we get to a critical stage.

Posted by: Gwen at June 19, 2008 8:28 AM

I hear what you're saying. I just turned 39 on Saturday and have noticed a lot of gray hairs lately. I also have a lot more aches and pains (knee pain, back pain) that weren't there a few years ago. It's not fun - AT ALL. On the other hand, like you said, the alternative to having another birthday is even worse.

Posted by: Kimberly at June 19, 2008 8:30 AM

What a coincidence because as I was riding my scooter from my bloodtest this morning I realized that although I may grow old, I'll probably never grow up. I'm 48 but most people think I'm alot younger, I'm about the size (4'10 3/4" and 122ish) of some 5th graders in school So I think because I don't look my age, I've never felt my age. Might explain why I just got my nose pierced.
Life has MOST DEFINITELY gotten better as I've gotten older - don't know why, it just has.
I'm NOT looking forward to health problems as I get older. I'm hoping if I continue to eat right and exercise I will avoid anything major!
There is nothing I haven't done that I hope to do before I'm "older". I'm a very content person.

Posted by: Nancy at June 19, 2008 8:43 AM

Since I turned 30 a few months ago, I've been finding more and more gray hair! I really thought I'd have kids before I had gray hair.

Posted by: jaime at June 19, 2008 8:44 AM

I've gotten wiser, and as a result, more content with my place in the world.

Really, just the body giving out. I've always been a sports player (and occasional watcher) and I don't like the knee pain, the aching muscles, and slow recovery times.

I'd probably like to run another marathon. Maybe play in an ice hockey league (I play in an inline hockey league now). Nothing too big. I'm looking forward to enjoying my older years, but am still insured to the hilt in case I don't make it there.

Posted by: Brad at June 19, 2008 8:54 AM

I vaguely remember being traumatized by 40. Now that seems so young. My hair went from natural blond to snow white (skipped gray)over the last 10 years without my noticing until one of the kids pointed it out.

I thought 70 (as of last April) would bother me but it doesn't really. As others have said, consider the alternative.

Posted by: Ann Adams at June 19, 2008 9:02 AM

I would most like to do some travelling before I get too old. I have about three places that I would be very sad if I missed. Or if I got there too old to move around and do all the things I dream of doing.

My outlook? I guess I've mellowed in some ways. At least I think I have. I'm, of couse, hugely family centered. Although, I think I've always been that way. I've always put myself second to take care of siblings or parents, or spouse. With the kids, it's different. I feel fulfilled being their mother.

It never used to bother that I was getting older. I'm turning 35 this year. I'm ok with it, but I also realize that I will NOT be ok with 40. 40 kinda freaks me out. I look young for my age, I'm starting to get gray hair, and more lines. I could be in better shape, but I still have a great @ss. ;-)

Things that worry me about getting older... too many to list. I'm a worry wart. I'll narrow it down to finances and dementia.

Posted by: varinia at June 19, 2008 9:05 AM

I too have started to have to use reading glasses. Of course, working with spreadsheets and being on the computer all day doesnt help my situation. I feel that I have grown a little wiser and am not as carefee as I used to be. I tend to think things through before I go through with them, not like the old days with my devil may care attitude. I dont think of it as growing old, I think of it as aging well, kind of like a fine wine. I want to travel before I am too old to enjoy it.

Posted by: Elizabeth at June 19, 2008 9:12 AM

Reading glasses would be a welcomed worry for me. My Mom is a diabetic. My Dad died at age 60, of respiratory failure. He smoked, heavily for years, so essentially, I did too. He had his first (of like 7 I think) heart attack at age 45. That was followed up with a quintuple bypass surgery.
He also had Multiple Sclerosis. Autoimmune disorders seem to run in the family. He also did a round with cancer, had fibromyalgia, heart disease and high cholesterol.

So, yeah, I am not looking forward to that whole getting older thing. I am prediabetic and prehypertensive. I also have an autoimmune disorder that I am trying to currently get under control. Fun times. pfft.

Posted by: Jen at June 19, 2008 9:29 AM

Before I got pregnant, I lost a lot of weight and I was able to be physical again, like I was when I was a kid who did gymnastics and softball and running. What I want to do before I'm too old is get back into shape and run some 5Ks and do a lot of sports with my kids. Might as well utilize my body's poetntial while I still can.

Posted by: claire at June 19, 2008 9:37 AM

oh, I've got the grey hair, and I don't care for it. Luckily, I've been highlighting or dyeing my hair since I was 15, so no reason to stop now!

My two biggest fears about getting older are 1) not being able to depend on my body anymore and 2) losing the people I love.

The list of stuff I still want to do before I get too old is very long. I'm pretty pleased with what I've accomplished so far in my life, but there's a lot left that I want to do.

Posted by: bad penguin at June 19, 2008 9:42 AM

My body and my brain argue about it all the time.

Posted by: steff at June 19, 2008 9:49 AM

Getting older isn't all bad, the initial distaste for it quickly wears off. 35 hit me the hardest. I'll be 42 next month. I feel that life is grand.

I'm not at my thinnest, but I'm healthy, active and quite content with where I am. The thing that I've noticed the most the past five years or so is that if I want an active life--exercise and such is becoming more important to me as I don't want to hit a certain age and for the first time in my life--get heavy.

It's hard to explain, but I feel that with each year that I'm more of who I was meant to be. I'm older, wiser, more experienced and life is still full of promise. Yet, it's different--you can't help, but be reminded at a certain age that you likely have more years behind you than possibly ahead of you and wondering/worrying what kind of quality of life you will have in your 60s/70s/80s.

Chris, you have a great head of hair. I like the new haircut.

Posted by: Diane at June 19, 2008 10:01 AM

I don't have gray hair, and I probably won't for a long time - us blondes tend to hang onto a semblance of agelessness in that department. However, the metabolism thing? The inability to just eat a bit less and walk a bit more and take those winter pounds off in a couple of weeks? Dang. It doesn't work anymore. Having to think twice before eating my favorite foods? Hate it.

I first started noticing the laugh lines (read, wrinkles) around my eyes at 30. They're getting worse now that I've added another five years onto them. I have to say that I'm glad I have them. It shows that I've lived and loved and learned, but they do mark me as an older woman.

I worry the most about never getting married or having any children. That breaks my heart sometimes. I always wanted to be a young parent, but that is not to be. I'm even considering whether or not I would even WANT children at this point in my life if the opportunity presented itself. What a change in outlook from the carefree 21 year old who was looking forward to a carfull of kids (I wanted 4. Seriously) and days at the beach. Guess I'll just have to keep borrowing them and returning them tired, dirty and full of candy. (I'm naughty like that!)

Posted by: k8 at June 19, 2008 10:06 AM

Oh, dude. Gravity is kicking my ASS, and that's all I'll say about that.

Posted by: Fraulein N at June 19, 2008 10:28 AM

Oh, dude. Gravity is kicking my ASS, and that's all I'll say about that.

Posted by: Fraulein N at June 19, 2008 10:28 AM

2 things remind me that I am getting older: the weight gain and the grey hair. Otherwise, I'm still 12 most of the time. :)

You're only as young as you think. You, sir, with 2 kiddies. They'll keep you young until their tween years!

Posted by: oakley at June 19, 2008 11:10 AM

Oh, but until the following happens to you, you don't get to complain: I was out shopping with someone from work (I'm 35, she's 24). A saleslady asked me if I were going to buy an item for my daughter! And then the next day I was out for a walk with my 2-year old son and a man in our neighbourhood commented that it was so nice to see a grandma out for a walk with her grandson!! Holy crap! That was ego-crushing. I don't have THAT much grey hair...okay, well, a fair amount, but it still looks brown, not grey.

But the thing I miss the most is my memory, which used to be damn near photographic. Now? Not so much. I'm lucky sometimes if I can remember my name! :) And before I get too old, I want to travel more. Show my kids the world!

Posted by: Carmen at June 19, 2008 11:26 AM

We're the same age, you and I. Since age 18 and my enlistment in the military, I've gone to the gym and been a fairly regular runner. After taking the last 6 months off to finish the research and prepare for the thesis defense, I'm now finding that getting back into the groove is proving to be extraordinarily painful. It's certainly been an eye-opener, confirming that while 35 isn't 'old', it's most definitely not 25 or even 30 where the body is concerned. And it will only continue to creak louder as the years pass. Watching my grandparents struggle with aches and pains has made me a little more pragmatic in my desire to live a long life. I'll squeeze as much out of what I have, but I don't necessarily hope that I reach 80, because my grandparents current life and my own experience in biomedical research has for me confirmed Mr. Oswalt's observation.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 19, 2008 12:09 PM

It wasn't until I realized the Muzak they played in the grocery store was the same rock-n-roll metal I listened to in my high school days that I started feeling old. I'm praying I'll be lucky in the gray-hair department - I have my grandfather's hair, and he didn't even start going gray until he was 70+.

Posted by: Peggi at June 19, 2008 12:25 PM

When the weather turns cruddy, my left ankle hurts. Now THAT'S getting old.

Posted by: GreenCanary at June 19, 2008 1:32 PM

My hubby (then-boyfriend) got diverticulitus (typically occurs in middle-aged people) right after we started dating...when he was 21 :)

I knew he was older than me, but that was taking it a little far!

Posted by: Liz at June 19, 2008 1:32 PM

So far I'm not minding it so much. I just turned 40 this year and decided it was finally time to start taking care of my body - hahaha

Seriously, I just started Yoga and so far, I'm finding that it is helping me keep some of the flexibility that was starting to fade. I might be on to something.

Posted by: Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer at June 19, 2008 2:25 PM

As far as the gray hair bit goes, I've always said that I didn't care if my hair turned purple so long as it stayed around. My take on the aging thing: you spend your 20's trying to figure out who you are, your 30's putting it into practice, your 40's refining it, and your 50's onwards enjoying and reveling in your decision. That's why you see so many people in their 70's/80's/90's who know exactly who they are as a person (for good or bad). I remember as a kid thinking that age 30 was pretty much ancient, and everything went downhill from there. I found it to be the exact opposite. Once I hit 30, everything just kept getting better with each passing year. Yeah, I have less hair, and I can't physically do the things I could when I was 19, but I'd never go back again. I'm wise enough to make THAT decision. ;)

Posted by: j at June 19, 2008 4:06 PM

The gray hair, the need for glasses/ contacts just to see 5 feet away. I am loving all of these things, NOT!

Posted by: Amanda at June 19, 2008 4:23 PM

I'm not going to tell you how old I am, go take a look at my facebook pic and tell me how old you think I am.

But I can tell you it doesn't really bother me to get older. I can admit when I turned 30 that was the only time I thought about it.

My outlook is fuck em if they can't take a joke.

I want to outlive the C*A*T*S so I can know what it's like to not live with any....GAWD they're a PITA!!!

I color the little gray bastards.

..and you are NOT old!

Posted by: been there, done that at June 19, 2008 5:37 PM

The gray hairs are taking over.

I don't mind the number. I'll be 33 and I have no issue with that. Hell, being 40 won't bother me. But - I don't like the aches and pains and fatigue. And my stomach seems to get more sensitive as I age. My shoulders are achey all of the time. My lower back always feel tired. My eyes feel strained. I get sun blisters on my lips now - I never got sun blisters before. 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen and I freckle. I've never freckled. My mom tells me they are age spots . . .

But actually BEING OLDER? Shocking. My son is going into 5th grade. How in the world am I old enough to have a 5th grader? When did THAT happen? Wasn't it yesterday I was calling my parents telling them I was staying the night at Jody's house so I could go to Ryan's party? And someone has trusted me with raising a child? Wait, two of them? ALONE? Shocking.

Posted by: Mindy at June 19, 2008 7:36 PM

What do I want to do? Get back to a career I can be proud of before it's too late.

Posted by: apathy lounge at June 19, 2008 9:55 PM

Let's see - outlook - um, everybody under 30 looks like they're 12. And I'm not really cool with that. But I'm more relaxed about pretty much everything that's real, which is nice.

Not looking forward to smelling like an old person. Do they know they smell like that? When does the sense of smell go?

I want to go on a real, live, kick-ass and kidless vacation with my husband before I get too old to soak up every minute of sand and sun. But they baby is only 2 so I can't see leaving him for that long yet. Such a wuss.

Posted by: sunshine at June 19, 2008 10:13 PM

I started going grey at 18, so I got used to that along time ago. And learned how to do a great professional dye job for myself helped with that. When I was younger I used to take my time for granted. Now I feel like I wasted a lot of years. I'll be 40 next b-day. My biggest getting old fear come right after my kids are all grown and then what the hell will I do? I'm totally afraid of being that sad little old woman who lives alone that nobody visits.

Posted by: OS at June 19, 2008 10:33 PM

One thing I have noticed is that while I used to scoff at going to the eye doc for regular checkups, I now keep those appointments.

I wear my gray hair like a crown, I earned every damn one of them!

Posted by: Jeff A at June 20, 2008 1:42 AM

At least men can embrace the gray with carefree abandon. Many of us women simply refuse to "embrace" the gray, and in fact spend buttloads of money on a regular basis to disguise the gray as best we can. Be thankful you don't have gray roots to deal with. Oh yeah, THAT'S a load of joy. Getting old sucks, but like you said, at least we're on this side of the dirt.

Posted by: coolchick at June 20, 2008 6:35 AM

oooh patton. saw him live. freakin hilarious. seeing eddie izzard live in vegas in a month. can't WAIT

Posted by: colleen at June 21, 2008 5:05 AM

I had a conviction through my teens and twenties that I would die before I was thirty. I wasn't trying to be morbid, I just 'knew'. Indeed, I had two near misses - one in my late teens, one in my early twenties. I'll be 32 this year and I'm LOVING it!

I personally can't WAIT for my hair to turn grey - I just think it looks super cool, especially when long. Though knowing my luck I'll be scraggy like my mum's rather than silver like my dad's was.

Posted by: mamacrow at June 21, 2008 4:31 PM