I want to age gracefully. It’s right there on the top of this page. So you’d think when I was asked to explain what that means to me, I would have an answer ready.
Wrong. So, I turned to the word experts at Merriam-Webster‘s for help. What is grace?
3. a charming or attractive trait or characteristic
- a pleasing appearance or effect : charm
- ease and suppleness of movement or bearing
Not me. I would love to be those things. When I wrote my tagline above, this is why I said odds are against me. I’ve always been a klutz. I’ve always been more socially awkward than charming. I don’t expect that to change as I age.
Nor do I expect my appearance to become more pleasing with age.
Aging brings change that is difficult to love. We sag. We bulge. We wrinkle. In our youth-worshiping culture, there is always the temptation to fight these changes.
We diet and exercise to maintain both our health and a youthful appearance. We squeeze into spanx; push our breasts up with wire and foam, lots of foam; and hide our wrinkles with increasing numbers of cosmetics.
Some of us decide to inject, to tuck, to lift, to implant. All sorts of cosmetic surgeries are available to help us fight aging. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it.
For me, at least right now, fighting my body’s natural aging isn’t my idea of graceful. I am happy at the age I am. I don’t mind looking it. Accepting the changes life brings with good grace, and a sense of humor, will, I think, make me happier in the long run than obsessing over looking younger than I am.
If I want to fight anything, it is these two ideas: that only youth is beautiful and that a woman’s value lies in her appearance and ability to attract. These are lies.
2. approval, favor
- archaic : mercy, pardon
- a special favor : privilege
- disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
- a temporary exemption : reprieve
That disposition of kindness and courtesy has always been important to me. There is no beauty apart from it. It is the difference between a pretty face and a beautiful person.
This grace is not a privilege of the young.
Random acts of kindness make us feel good, but it’s easier to be kind to an anonymous stranger than it is to be kind to the family and coworkers who drive us mad. Or the driver in the next lane, the waitress who messed up our order, the clerk who cannot count change.
Grace exudes a sense of caring for everyone she meets. She sees the value in others, and treats them respectfully. She doesn’t air every grievance and inconvenience. She is compassionate, patient, and forgiving. She doesn’t do kind things; she is kind. Simply put, she loves.
I want to age gracefully; to become kinder and more loving; to care less about how I look and more about how I see others; to care less about how I am treated and more about how I treat others.
1. Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
- a virtue coming from God
- a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
This one I’ve got covered, by no merit of my own.
I may not mention it frequently, but my faith underlies everything I am, and, hopefully, influences everything I do. If I have grace in no other form, this one is enough. Unlike youth or beauty, this grace is mine forever.
What does aging gracefully mean to you?