Thoughts on aging
Yesterday, I got my hair cut and, not being well-versed in idle chit chat with complete strangers, I was relieved that my hairdresser did not have much to say. A neighboring patron, however, more than made up for our silence. As she pried into the social lives of everyone in the room, I wondered why it was that we were the ones made uncomfortable by her breaking the unwritten code of hair salon conduct.
Are your parents still married?

Um, no.

Why not.

(no answer)

Why not? (louder)

Um, my dad is an alcoholic. Mom got tired of it.
Said customer then launched into a lengthy rant about alcoholics and how she did not blame the stylist's mother one bit. Even as the stylist became quieter and more noticeably agitated. I thought she was about to burst into tears, but another customer spared her with a question and a topic change.

Amidst offending my stylist to the point she had to leave the room for a moment and ruffling the feathers of even the elderly lady next to her who seemed the only one willing to set clear boundaries as to what conversation was appropriate, she said one thing which stuck with me.

The elderly lady had just gotten her hair colored. While they chatted about that, the stylist asked if that was something she was considering.
Goodness, no. I've earned every one of these gray hairs.

An interesting perspective. I have always hoped I would be able to grow old gracefully. Take wrinkles and gray hairs in stride. I suppose it helps that I have never particularly prided myself on any aspect of my physical appearance, but I still wonder if it will all be as graceful when it strikes. My first gray hairs I discovered in college, for me, merely added one more color to the interesting rainbow that is my natural hair color. I'm not so sure I will be so amused when they turn to visible streaks.
The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. (Proverbs 20:29)
Our culture venerates youth. Beauty, vigor, spontaneity, impulsivity and a lifestyle devoted to the here and now are held in high regard by a society fearful of growing old. In a recent email exchange, someone made a slightly condescending statement about "those of us who were able to maintain a childlike view of the world..." I know what is meant in that, and frankly the person did not know me well enough to judge my view of the world based on what little I had revealed. But it left me wondering why this "childlike view of the world" is so highly esteemed by adults. Are we not to be raising chilren to adulthood, not regressing ourselves back to childhood?

But we hate the thought of getting old, either physically or mentally. In My Generation by The Who, lead Vocalist Roger Daltrey sings,
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
In 1965, Daltrey even vowed to commit suicide before he reached 30 because he did not want to grow old.

And everyone in my generation should remember this one:
I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R' Us kid.
A million toys to choose from, that I can play with.
From bikes to trikes and video games,
It's the biggest toy store there is...Gee Wiz!
I don't wanna grow up,
'Cause baby if I did...
I wouldn't be a Toys R' Us kid!
Why don't we want to grow up? And why do we seem to have so little respect for the experience and wisdom which comes with aging? We prefer to depict our parents and grandparents as dottering old fools, teetering on the edge of dementia then afford them the honor earned by their years. At the same time, we identify with teenagers in our dress, activities and speech, denying to all (and most especially ourselves) that we will ever be like the generations which precede us. When that fails, and we are confronted by our age, we hold on to the notion that we are still "young at heart."

When was the last time you thought that the beauty of any person rested in a gray head? And as we look forward to each gray hair with increasing dread, do we not take away some of the joy of the life we have been given? I'm not sure what he was referring to exactly, but La Bruyere apparently once said,
Most men spend the first part of their lives in making the latter part miserable.
Excessive fixation on trying to defeat the effects of time seem destined to ensure us of just that.