I don’t take much notice of these dedicated weeks of social celebration. Sometimes I cynically think they are just empty marketing ploys. Everything has a ‘week’ of its own these days; book week, happy heart week, love your cat week. However this Positive Ageing week seems to have struck a chord. I actually think it has been handled well and so far we are having a very positive, Positive Ageing few days.
There are probably many reasons why this has caught my attention, not least because I’m ageing myself: aren’t we all, all of the time. We don’t like to acknowledge it too much, often in the hope that it will go away but the reminders of the passage of time and the natural decay of the body are hard to avoid. There are all the usual indicators; a new wrinkle or two, the grey hairs and suddenly the reassessing of your entire underwear collection. That just seems to happen out of the blue. It is only at a certain age that you really appreciate the makers of ‘foundation garments’ or even understand the term. It is only at a certain age that before browsing the fancy, lacy stuff you head straight to the industrial strength, ugly as hell, full suits of flesh toned ‘armour’ in the underwear department. You truly understand the value of ‘suck it in and make it disappear’ under garments. You don’t care that they cost upwards of €70 a pop, (indeed it’s cheap considering what you get for your money.) You even wonder why the makers haven’t won some Nobel Prize because we know they must be worthy of some category. We don’t even care that having spent the bones of €100 these items will leave you looking like a torture victim when you peel them off in the evening.
Joan from Mad Men
Indeed, the current 1950s fashion obsession with Joan from Mad Men will lead to a lot more stripes and marks this coming winter! Gone are the days when three bits of tooth floss could be fashioned into a handy pair of knickers. Gone are those heady days of throwing caution to the wind when all your bras were in the wash and you thought, “What does it matter, I’ll work away without one!” It is thoughts like these that caused me to spontaneously laugh and loose a mouthful of coffee when I read that Helen Mirren’s tips for how to look good in a bikini at 60 were 1) suck in your stomach 2) wear high heels! Ok, a few people might get away with it but the majority should just steer clear of the bikini for heaven’s sake.
Despite the physical deterioration, (which can be concealed well these days) I think there is great liberation in age. Year by year I’m finding that there really is less and less to be bothered about. It’s like peeling layers from an onion. I always thought that youth was the key to being carefree and that as you aged the baggage would accumulate and, like a tree, the rings would increase outwards. My reality is quite different. I find the layers are disappearing and with each passing year the real me is revealed more and more. I wear less of the myriad of faces we all use for our different situations and tend to use the same one more and more. I finally understand that there are no winners or losers as such and the race is only against yourself; possibly one of the most life changing realisations to date. I can’t put my finger on when I got the full revelation of that but it’s been quite a while now. I love the saying “that you will never win your race if you stop to argue with the spectators in the stand”. Always do your own thing and don’t worry what other people think. Of course they are entitled to their opinion but it’s your life.
When you age positively you tend to develop a lovely wisdom that allows you to laugh and often at your own expense. In all the great ‘young’ old people that I know, one of the common denominators is a sense of humour and an ability to appreciate the craic. These qualities instantly erase thoughts of age and humour transcends all boundaries. It is the humourless, the bitter and the crotchety that give old age a bad name.
I love the joke about the doctor who meets one of his elderly patients out walking in the park one day. As the patient approaches the doctor notices that he has a great big smile on his face and a beautiful, voluptuous woman on his arm. As they get closer, the patient recognises his doctor and shouts with a smile, “Hey doc, I took your advice. I got myself a real ‘Hot Mama’ and I’m being cheerful!” The surprised doctor shouts back, “What I said was, “You have a heart murmur, be careful!””
Signs to take note of
We have an ageing population but there is no reason why that has to be a negative thing. If anything it might be a sign of a wiser future for the entire country. By the way you’ll know if you’re ageing if:
1. You have more hair in your ears and your nose than you do on your head.
2. Waking up you feel like the morning after but you haven’t been anywhere.
3. You finally reach the top of the ladder and find it leaning against the wrong wall.
4. Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
5. You turn out the lights for economic rather than romantic reasons.
6. You sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.
7. You are dating someone half your age and you’re not breaking any laws.
8. You think about buying a metal detector to take to the beach for a bit of fun.
9. You can’t remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch TV.
10. You know what ‘equity’ means and you can have an intelligent discussion on pension plans.
11. You have too much space in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
12. You have a party and the neigbours don’t even realise it.
Happy Positive Ageing Week. Enjoy!