Ironically, we also live in a time and place where the evolution of enlightenment has begun. People want a life of purpose and significance. Many have embarked on the journey to learn, know, and grow. The terms authentic and transparent resonate with so many.
Yet journeys take time. Learning and growing take time. As time passes, we age, and by the time we have gained wisdom, our authentic and transparent selves are not fully acceptable–because we are seen as “old.”
I was recently talking with a group of people, both men and women, who ranged in age from about 35 to 55. The topic of conversation was the benefits and drawbacks of various kinds of running shoes. The conversation was lively and enthusiastic. One woman was describing her favorite shoe but couldn’t remember the brand name. “Oh, I know which one you mean,” I said, “but I can’t remember the name either.” We smiled at each other.
“I don’t know why we can’t remember,” she said, and I answered with a laugh, “It’s called menopause.”
Everyone stopped talking immediately. An uncomfortable period of dead silence ensued, as if I had broken a taboo. The taboo had nothing to do with a woman’s menstrual cycle, which used to be a taboo subject for polite conversation. No, mentioning menopause now was taboo because it relates to age.
So much for enlightenment. I guess vanity is stronger. After contemplating this incident, I understand that so many view aging as vulnerability. But why is the vulnerability associated with aging so uncomfortable, especially if we feel and look so much better than our parents did at our age? I suppose it is because it speaks to the mortality we each share. When we are young we are hot and alive, and when we are old we fear we may be stagnant and dying. Ouch!
Youth embodies so many dreams and promotes the promise of the journey to come. Age promotes wisdom and accomplishments and creates a person of confidence who is open to sharing. One does not outshine the other. So why do we act as if it does?
What is the answer? Instinctively, I am certain that love creates beauty through the ageless sharing of our souls. I know that arms wide open can heal and that this gesture creates joy.
So I close my eyes and say a prayer. I pray to remember that my life has endless possibilities and that my gray hairs simply mean my understanding of life has grown. I open my eyes and realize in this moment that my life begins again right here with the face in the mirror looking back at me. Then I offer a toast to our future of ageless dreams.