“Time and tide wait for no man.”
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales.
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Chaucer’s line from The Canterbury Tales shows how even back in the Middle Ages, people paid heed to the inevitable process of aging. And unlike nowadays, an unspoken code existed back then on appropriate conduct as you moved away from young adulthood and got older.
Even a short fifty years ago, standards for individuals in the prime of their life were defined by society. Ward and June Cleaver knew how to dress, speak and socialize (I’d bet the neighbors looked forward to ‘bridge-night’ with the Cleaver’s).
Yet as today’s baby boomers hit middle-age, the standard is simple: if you can pull it off, anything goes.
We don’t see ourselves as aging. We see ourselves as getting better with age. I cite Bon Jovi and Sting as living proof (are they hotter now or is it me?) And Steven Tyler still swaggers across the stage carrying ‘cool’ like it’s his middle name. Nope, middle-aged doesn’t mean you’re one step away from staying home and watching Lawrence Welk anymore.
But this often ignored age-bracket does have a way of creeping up out of nowhere. I’d floated through my thirties with the mind-set of a young woman thinking endless days lie ahead to pursue my dreams. My fortieth birthday stunned me with the force of walking into a glass door.
I’d just been tossed smack-dab into the second half of my life!
Sure, I didn’t feel that old, but I really wanted to be younger. I wouldn’t take this lying down (although I had noticed an increase in my weekend nap time.) Like Ponce de Leon, I hunted for a modern-day Fountain of Youth. There had to be a means to turn back the clock. And then it hit me…people my age who appeared more youthful simply gave the illusion of youth.
I turned to my oldest daughter for suggestions as to what I could do.
“You can start by getting rid of those Mommy-jeans,” she said. Without hesitation, I ran out and purchased some lower-waist styles.
She rummaged through my make-up bag. “Sephora has better stuff.” All off-the-rack supplies from CVS were tossed in the trash and resupplied with her suggestions.
“And Mom… nobody wears white bras.” She looked at me with pity, as if she’d just seen me wearing my nineteenth century whale-bone corset. “You need to go to Victoria’s Secret with me.”
I knew she wasn’t wrong. A glimpse at her messy bedroom floor proved bras now came in a variety of styles, colors and fabrics (not to mention I’d noticed her underpants barely covered her rear-end, but I had my limits.) I burned all my standard issue white Playtex bras and dragged myself to the mall.
Initially, the surface changes helped. My neighbor told me that every time her mother runs into me, she exclaims, “Sharon looks younger every time I see her.” And it did give me an updated feel.
Yet the aging-clock continued to tick. Ten years after my mini-makeover, I may appear somewhat modernized on the outside, but the inside suffers with more aches and pains than ever.
Still, my optimism will never fail me. I’ve decided to cling to the notion fifty is the new thirty-five.
And I believe Chaucer’s statement has merit, but I’m pretty sure if he were alive today he’d post something on Twitter like, ‘Not 2 worry… age is just a #. Follow me on Twitter @Geofchaucer or my blog@ www.gchaucer.com.’
*** Next post…Embracing your Inner-aging Goddess (while staying close to my younger one.)