In the world of antiques age is a big deal, in fact for some antiques the older the more valuable. We place a positive value on age and pay for it accordingly.
In the North American world of humans it seems to be exactly the opposite. We over value youth and under value age. Have a look. All the anti-ageing propaganda, Botox, facelifts, butt lifts, breast jobs all for both men and women. Just this issue alone speaks volumes of where we place our value. Wrinkle, stiff joints, the affects of gravity, impacts our bodies unavoidably.
Retirement, at a fixed age – forced retirement is another example of this same anti-age movement. Just when I get good at something it’s time to stop? Out to pasture. Off to the golden years. Early retirement. The anti-ageing marketing is unrelenting.
This anti-ageing movement is a result of several things, our change from rural living and at the same time multigenerational living. Most of us now live in an urban setting and are fiercely independent few of us, 11%, live with our elders. We have fallen out of touch with the natural cycle of life. When we combine these facts with our North American view that we humans can ‘fix’ everything there you have it! Couple all this with a healthy does of denial and fear of death and we have seemingly created an anti-ageing monster.
Here is a piece of an email a friend recently sent to me that that to this issue of ageing from a unique perspective – a cemetery.
“By the way, as you are writing about antiques and seniors, you may wish to use this ‘writing’ I found on a tombstone in a graveyard in southern England. Can’t remember the exact location, but it was a little harbour deep in Cornwall where Sir. Francis Drake used to hide his ships. And, it was just beside/above a church that had been built by Celtic people and taken over by Christians way back when. I was actually in the company of a group of women on a ‘spiritual sites for women’. (1997). Here’s the inscription.
‘If there is great beauty in old trees, old streets
and the ruins of old houses;
why not should I,
as well as these, grow lovely, growing old?
Perhaps in openly noticing where we are with ageing and what we are missing because of our aversion to such a natural process is enough to begin to change how we view our elders.
Warmly and with gratitude