There’s been so much in the news about anti-aging remedies from anti-wrinkle cream to human growth hormone that I just wanted to speak for the pro-aging side. What’s wrong with aging? I see the faces of elderly people who have decided to deny their aging with chin lifts, botox injections, and facial implants, and I get this creepy feeling inside. Why are they avoiding the natural wrinkles, creases, bumps, and sags that come with growing old? I’ve always felt that there’s something beautiful about the faces of aging people. When I was a child, I’d see these photos of older Native American leaders in the National Geographic, and even at that young age I felt a deep beauty in their faces. I’d look at the faces of my grandmother and great-grandmother (who I was privileged to live with for a year), and be in awe. In some ways, I get the same kind of feeling when I look at ancient trees.
It seems that people in our youth-oriented culture have lost touch with the deep meanings that collect around being old. It’s as if they wanted to eliminate autumn and winter from the four seasons. It’s as if they were saying “let’s get rid of the hideous autumn foliage, and withered leaves, so everything can be green all the time.” There’s a life-denying quality to those artificially stretched cheeks and foreheads; a kind of tension there that wants to pretend time doesn’t exist. But it does. What a great honor it is to be a part of this mysterious life process that unfolds, that has been unfolding for as long as there have been living things!
For some incredible photos of aged people, see the exhibition by Mark Story “Living in Three Centuries: The Face of Age”
For more information about developmental issues related to aging and late adulthood, see my book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life.
This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
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