Dateline Seattle: No wise men ever wished to be younger

“Gurang na.” “Suffering from senioritis.” “Pre-departure area na kita.” These are the common excuses I have been hearing from my friends lately when they forget something, visit the doctors more frequently, miss an appointment or make unintended mistakes. While these responses trigger a few laughters, behind the laughters is the realization that aging has finally caught them. The signs are too obvious. Their wrinkles are too deep to miss. Their white hairs are too many to count. Their hairlines have started to recede. Their boobs are beginning to sag. What was once an attractive face has turned ghastly. Aging is really as personal and unique as each individual makes it. To some, aging sends a strong intimation of mortality. It frightens them because it signals the beginning of the end of everything one has built. Conversely, others see it as a time to make up for lost opportunities; to resolve any unfinished business that ranges from forgiving someone to loving someone however unlovable the person is. There are those who welcome the aging process with open arms. Age is after all just a number, they say. Aging is not as dreaded as it sounds. After all, in many cultures, the elderly are honored, respected, and considered a source of wisdom. No one captures this better than Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish writer, who wrote, “No wise man ever wished to be younger.” Across gender, however, there appears to be vast differences in how men and women view aging. While men generally associate aging with experience, wisdom and physicality, most women I know, but not all, tend to focus on their physical appearance as they grow older. Of course, looks are important. Men are initially attracted to looks. Nothing is wrong with maintaining one’s beauty or appearance. A few men I know are in fact obsessed with their looks. But for women – and men – to be preoccupied by their physical appearance as if it is the only thing that matters in life is the height of vanity. I happen to be of the opinion that a woman who is beautiful at 20 will be beautiful at 50 and will be beautiful at 80. A rose by any other name still smells as sweet. The same can be said of men. Which brings me to the more important thing that we need to focus on as we age – one’s inner beauty. Translation: There is no substitute for good character, good attitude, and good personality. The consequences of aging in both men and women such as sunken skin and depression due to hormonal and psychological changes are unavoidable. But in the hierarchy of things called life’s continuum, there is no substitute for inner beauty. I’m just shooting the breeze here. Aging is not the end of the world for me. I’ve had so many struggles and I often emerge enlightened. I’ve encountered so many conflicts and I often emerge wiser. I’ve been through so much in life and I still find life meaningful. I can’t for the life of me feel that I am weaker, less valued or less important because of my age. The men and women I’ve met in my journey have all been good to me. A few are outright boneheaded that I sometimes wonder why God created them. But without them I would not have learned to trust, smile, praise, encourage and love. Afraid of aging?