On Ageing Gracefully

“Nothing makes a woman look so old
as trying desperately to look young”
Coco Chanel

On a cold, rainy, grey day in Berlin, my thoughts inevitably turn inwards and look ahead into the future. It has been a topsy-turvy week, during which I have taken a fall in more literal ways, forcing me to push certain beloved tasks aside. Ageing has been on the forefront of my mind, since I made another round with the doctors. My blood pressure issues are under control with the change of medication, and the nod of approval to cut back on working hours. The blood tests show that I am fit as a fiddle and have no cardiac issues to worry about. So why do I feel exhausted, drained and weary? Stress and burnout. Well, no surprises there. It also all part and parcel of the ageing process that I cannot deny.

I have no problems whatsoever with ageing. After all, who am I to argue with Mother Nature about the inevitability of it all. The question is, can I do it gracefully?

I want to be beautiful the way worn-out things are:
Touched by time,
And proud to be rough around the edges
with a story to tell.

In terms of ageing gracefully, I have a plethora of models to look up to, beginning with my mother. I learned from her how important it is to keep up with the times and be tuned into the current trends, the lingo of the younger generation, and embrace the changing social patterns. It kept her youthful even though her body claimed otherwise. She was always eager to check out the newest mall, watch an adventure movie (she loved anything related to Marvel), voice an opinion about the political situation and the politicians no matter how controversial her opinion might have been. Most importantly, she never lost her sense of humour in the face of embarrassing or frustrating ageing processes. Shifting over to adult diapers, for example, was no big deal for her, unlike Daddy who rebelled relentlessly until he had more than one “accident” in public.

I have a couple of aunts and uncles who have also aged gracefully, indulging in their favourite activities while approaching their 80s, in addition to all the acquaintances along the way who were never afraid to embark on a new adventure after 75. Their secret was the same as my mother’s – surround yourself with people who can laugh with you, who teach you to laugh at yourself, and retain a sense of humour throughout the most difficult times. I have a hell of a lot to learn.

Ageing is not lost youth,
but a new stage of opportunity and strength
Betty Friedan

I picked up my new glasses last week, and my eyes are taking longer to adjust than before. It is definitely not my first time with progressive lenses, but somehow, due to the fact that my eyes are already strained from the daily wear and tear of work in front of a monitor, and the additional dryness of the winter air, I can hardly tell anymore what is a normal state. In any case, it is tricky to gauge distances at the moment, and I am so glad I don’t have to drive.

The current inability to manoeuvre distances and depth accurately has also led me to take a tumble down the stairs while coming out of an appointment. I missed the last 2 stairs and tumbled my way down to the ground, landing painfully on my knees and twisting my ankle. It had been a while since I took such a fall, and for a moment I was very disoriented. My arm and shoulder were sore for the next few days (and still are, if truth be told) but my pride took the worst battering of them all.

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