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Finding Clarity in the Aging Process

Toban B.
Flickr Creative Commons

A recent trip to a drugstore prompted commentator Rebecca Rine to take a look at aging and find some clarity in the process.

The more I age, the more I appreciate the importance of eating right, exercising and not lying in the sun with bacon grease on my body. I do all these things easily on a daily basis, but I refuse to throw down my hard-earned money on beauty creams created to somehow “fix” my aging face.

I was recently at a drugstore and was overwhelmed by how many choices there are for women for facial cream. The sprawled out shelves hijacked my attention, and my eyelids started to flicker faster than a hummingbird sipping espresso. There were exhausting options that purported to fill in wrinkles and magically erase other signs of unforgivable humanity like dark circles.

Have you ever stopped to read the wording on the packaging of these creams? Anti-wrinkle, rejuvenating, revitalizing, age-diminishing, age-defying, restores vitality and youth are a few examples of some of the heroic, fictional wording, which loosely translates into, "We know you're scared of getting old, ugly, and not good enough." I’m guessing not many women (aside from me) would buy a beauty product that touts such honesty on its label as this, though.

Since we are scared of aging, we’re tricked into letting this perfectly planned marketing into our vulnerable brains. We want to believe there must be a way around this path to wrinkling skin and sinking eyes.

Well, there isn’t, and looking at all the prices and choices gave me more wrinkles and stress than just being a contented person who fearlessly accepts life's changes with grace and gratitude.

I'm not immune to this fear of aging. I hear more clicking and cracking in my bones now that I’m 40. I’m not saying I think I’m old, but a noticeable change has set up camp in my body and mind. I often walk into a room and forget why I went in there or look for my keys when they’re in my hands. I no longer work out to just look good and feel good—I work out to be strong in preparation of the inevitable descent that is about to occur.

This whole mindset of feeling like we have a shelf life is real. I get it. It’s because we do. But if we’re fortunate enough, we age and we change. This change can lead to confidence, and confidence is the most alluring part of anyone. Why waste precious time feeling sad that we're changing when we could be curious about what's next?

What’s strange to me is that we women do this to ourselves. There are so many choices out there because we're buying them. There is no supply without demand. Take a look at the men’s section for beauty creams. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything more than a big jug that says “For dudes” on it. They keep it simple. At first this seemed like an injustice, and as I was having a conversation in my head telling men how annoying it is that we have to worry about staying attractive and young and they don't, I realized it--we don't have to care either.

Growing old is often referred to as being over the hill, but I’ve found that sledding downhill is way more fun than climbing uphill. In my twenties and thirties, I struggled to climb the hill, wandering to find my way and worth. Age and experience have brought me wrinkles, yes, but they’ve also brought me to the top of this hill, and from up here on Mount Wrinkles I have a clear, peaceful view most days of what’s important.

Instead of fighting the inevitable pull of aging, I want to sled down that hill, with a dumb grin on my face and a collection of happy wrinkles with my hat falling off because the ride’s so exciting. I want to keep looking forward instead of behind me in remorse at the younger version of me. I will not be frantically slapping enchanting potions on my skin in false hope of stopping the clocks. The clocks will tick and the wrinkles will come, but I'm okay with that. There’s room for you in the sled too, if you give yourself permission.

Rebecca Rine is a writer living with her husband and two small children in Kettering.