By the time this article appears in print, I will have reached a major milestone birthday. While it isn’t the one that labels me a “senior” citizen, I am, nonetheless, definitely decades away from the time I was a “junior” citizen, and while I guess I can still consider myself middle-aged, I don’t think I fall into the “middle” middle age category, rather I am encroaching the tail end of it.
My reaction to this particular birthday is reminiscent of my mindset the first time a stranger – I think it was an official at a government office – called out “Mrs. Kupfer.” I remember turning around puzzled, wondering what my mother-in-law was doing there since I was the one with the appointment. I looked around and did not see her and was perplexed when Mrs. Kupfer was called again.
At that moment came the sudden realization, “Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?”
Yes, he was, and just like I had a very hard time wrapping it around my head that I was Mrs. Kupfer, so too I am having difficulty absorbing the fact that this new number, the one placing me in a new decade, applies to me!
My mother and her peers were the ones that age – how is it possible that I am? Did I enter a time warp in the Twilight Zone?
No, a look at my birth certificate confirms that the number is accurate. Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
But we baby boomers, realistically or not, love to re-invent ourselves, and so we insist to ourselves and all others in earshot, that it’s just a number. We may as well be 45, we like to convince ourselves as we stare in the mirror, pulling in our stomach and attributing the crow’s feet and bags under our eyes to the normal outcome of going to bed late or indulging at a simcha. Things will look better tomorrow. (Somehow that tomorrow never comes – we still look pretty much like we did yesterday! The puffiness under our eyes is still there, and the pulled-in stomach still protrudes over our pantyhose.)
Thinking we still look 45 is rather delusional on our part.
But it doesn’t have to be.
We can look and, most importantly, feel younger and be younger – still agile, stronger and cheerful!
For there is a two-tiered “fountain of youth” available to us – all we have to do is jump in!
One tier can make people appear younger on the outside. This fountain’s “magical waters” consist of makeup, cosmetic surgery that includes facelifts and eyelifts; liposuction; injected natural fillers; teeth whitening; dental implants to replace missing teeth; laser treatments to get rid of spots; creams, potions and lotions, etc.
But there is an element of risk involved anytime someone “goes under the knife” and these measures are temporary and need to be repeated. They create the illusion of being younger, one that is at odds with how you actually come across if you are physically unfit.
There is your actual age and there is your comparative age, and thus there are people in their 40’s who may as well be over 70 in terms of their health and the function of their heart and lungs. Conversely, there are individuals in their 80’s and 90’s who physically have the health of those who are decades younger than them.