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  • Betty Girardeau

How We Age


Do any of us ever really think about how we age? One day, it seems, we are young and beautiful, or handsome, with all the world at our door. And then, seemingly in no time at all, we see friends and ourselves becoming less: less beautiful, less handsome, less able. But are we really seeing our aging selves as we should? I think we perhaps have too negative an idea about aging, particularly after a certain age. I have teased my grandchildren when I have asked them their ages and they have given an age like six and a half or almost a teenager, and asked them, "Does that mean I should say that I am now 78 and a half, or, worse, almost an octogenarian?" Why do we embrace getting older when we are young and wish it weren't so when we get old(er)? I certainly can't easily answer that question. I do know that I wish I weren't the age that I am. But I also know that, given the chance, I would not want to have to go back in time and live my life over again, even if I could benefit in doing so with the knowledge that I have now. If I did, I know that I would lose things that are near and dear to me, like my children and grandchildren, because I would have lived my young life so differently if I could have. I would likely have not married when I did or who I did. For that reason I have no regrets. And I am so thankful for what my life has been, is, and, hopefully, can still become. These thoughts have been inspired by today's image. A week or two ago the dandelions in the fields near my house were bright and vibrant yellow. Such happy young flowers. Suddenly it seems, much like our own lives, they have become grey "haired" and and losing vibrancy. Sunday afternoon as I sat down next to this one in order to take its picture, I was only at first noticing that it was becoming bald. The lovely, billowy seed head was nearly gone. It was beginning to look old and tired. But when I looked at this image more closely, what did a see? One of the little seeds was falling off and away to hopefully one day become a new flower. That made me think about the "seeds" that each of us leave behind in our wake, not just at death, but during our whole life cycle. If we are living our lives as I think we should, we have been and will always to our last breaths, be sharing ourselves with the rest of the world in our thoughts, words, and actions, our little seeds. They escape us daily, even though we don't think about it. I think the process of aging is not just about growing older, but rather about sharing more. As a young yellow dandelion, this plant shared yellow and vibrant colors on a field of green. Later, though the field of green is not that much altered, the grey and feathery seed head is sharing to its last breath, different beauty. Don't you just love those feathery umbrellas for these individual seeds? What an example these dandelions are, because they show us in a short space of time what being alive, even as we age, is all about.

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