No shame in aging


To the Editor:

I am almost 81 years old, and it hasn’t always been easy to survive to this stage.

But in recent years, I have been getting increasingly frustrated and annoyed at the contemptuous way all of you, including and especially my fellow old people, insist on talking about aging and old age. Why should I have to coyly deny my age? Tell me!

You talk and apparently feel that only youth and inexperience count, that a smooth skin is far, far more attractive than a brain with many wrinkles. It depends on your purpose. You imply that callowness is definitely preferable to experience and wisdom, and that sexual attractiveness is all that counts in this life. Getting old, you seem to think, is a shame one does not want to admit to instead of being the achievement that it is.

Why do you think the Founding Fathers required a minimum age for high office? Should we change the Constitution to stipulate that no one over 50 will be allowed to act in the political arena (although I must admit that some of us never seem to achieve wisdom no matter how old they get), and that you can become president as soon as you can toddle? Why is the Senate not called kindergarten (even if its members sometimes act as if it were)?

Yes, it is a challenge to deal with declining income and declining strength and health. As the slogan goes, it is not for sissies.

And yes, it is a painful adjustment when you realize that the guys or gals in the street are no longer looking after you, but after your granddaughter or grandson instead. However, that too is not the end of the world, and it leaves you free to concentrate on more serious stuff, like trying to figure out why our leaders keep lying to us, and why Madison Avenue is so successfully working on keeping us in a state of immaturity to make us buy their stuff and fill their pocket.

The best way of never getting older is to never have been born at all. Or if it’s too late for that, kill yourself as soon as your first wrinkle shows.

Enough already with the cute euphemisms and hiding from reality and from the chances it offers us. How can we ever expect to be respected for what we are if we don’t respect ourselves?

Brigitte Lent