The natural aging process should be embraced and accepted, not battled and denied

Mar 22, 2024 | 0 comments

By Ray Horsley

I have to respectfully disagree with the recent article in CuencaHighLife that had suggestions for staying young. I agree with one of the comments that dying my hair is silly. It also risks contracting cancer, but my real objection goes beyond hair dying. It’s to the overall approach in this article, an approach ubiquitous in most societies today. The fact is, it’s impossible to stay young, it’s unnecessary to ‘stay young at heart’, whatever that means, and getting old is not a bad thing. Nothing needs to be done to battle the aging process. It’s a misguided idea. It’s a mistake and you’ll only fail if you try to do this ridiculous thing. Much better, embrace your age.

Ray Horsley celebrates his 71st birthday with his family.

Everywhere I look we mistakenly paint youth way too euphemistically while conversely portraying age WAY too pejoratively. “Oh, if I were just twenty-five years old again.” Really? I don’t want to be twenty-five again. I’m not speaking for anybody else here, but when I was twenty-five years old, I was kind of stupid. I may not be a genius now, but I was certainly stupider then. I had no money. I had no idea how to handle taxes or the IRS. I had no idea how to invest financially. I had a long list of things I wanted and could not afford. I never seemed to have enough time. I did not limit my alcohol intake at parties. I was struggling with the normal conflicts that arise in most workplaces, conflicts I did not know how to handle very well. And if I missed something I often lost sales. I even lost my job a few times. Worse yet I did not understand relationships, especially within my own family. I didn’t even know how to handle conflicts with neighbors’ barking dogs. Most of all I wanted romance, love, a woman, and I definitely did not understand how to go about that. Would I like to be twenty-five years old again? Uh, no thanks.

Many societies over the last ten thousand years were just the opposite of what we’ve become over the last hundred years. They actually respected their elders. They looked up to them for advice. And why not? It’s pure and simple. They were older and thus wiser. I think it might be media glamour today that has led us so far astray. Whatever the cause, we’ve got it all wrong: the age-old idea of old age. Yeah, a twenty-five-year-old person might be prettier and sexier but that’s about it. It’s certainly no cause for admiration to the point of idolatry. For that matter, while it’s admittedly unrealistic to expect youth today to seek advice from those older and wiser, I really don’t care. If young people aren’t coming to me for advice, it’s their loss, just as it was my loss forty years ago when I, too, listened to modern society painting old people as feeble and stupid, thus failing to seek advice from those who could have really helped me. And that would be another area where I was pretty stupid when I was young. I actually believed I was really smart.

These days I can name way too many friends who have already died, but not me! I’m in that privileged group. This is something to be enjoyed and appreciated, not looked at as a horrible thing to be corrected somehow or to battle against. Beyond just being grateful I can think of so many things I know and understand today that I didn’t when I was young.  I have endless memories to enjoy, not of those few, unfortunate events we all suffer somehow, but the thousands of great everyday memories from so many different periods of life. Some are quite entertaining. Others I can draw on to continue living better today.

I recently celebrated my 71st birthday. I had about fifteen friends over. Our ages ranged from 9 years old to, well, 71. But I did not invite people younger than me in some misguided effort to make me younger. I invited them because I like them. All guests were Ecuadorian, Colombian and Venezuelan so as the Spanish flew rapidly around the room I was challenged, but this time if I missed something I didn’t lose my job or sales or anything at all. Nice! Everything was in classic Ecuadorian style. We sang Happy Birthday twice. I stood behind a table with a cake and gave a short speech with the wall behind me heavily decorated including a large 71 for my age. As a joke I reversed the numbers to make my age 17, playing along with our society’s push that youth is better than age. But would I really like to be 17 again.

No! Age is not something to ‘deal with’ or try to stave off or fight against. It’s something to be embraced!

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