Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Aging is Bad?

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

In light of the pervasive cultural message that youth is the ideal state of being it is sometimes hard to resist the conclusion that becoming older is somehow bad. I hear all the time from people who are in various stages of getting older, comments to the effect that, “it’s all downhill from here”, “I keep waking up sore, and as soon as one thing heals another part starts hurting”, and worst of all, the defeatist lament, “…my best days are behind me”.

I am certainly aware of the creakiness that begins to set in and I am not about to deny that becoming older is a real phenomenon. I have however chosen to look at the process in a different way – a way that has been helpful to me towards the end of aging gracefully and in a somewhat actualized way.

Often in conversation regarding aging the phrase “well, it is better than the alternative” comes up. This may be the beginning of an improved outlook on the subject, however, for me it is far from the best attitude I could adopt.

I choose instead to embrace the process and claim it as the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I hope it keeps on happening! It is not so much that aging is better than the alternative, meaning DEATH; it is that aging is the essence of being alive. For as long as I am aging I am still living. This is so fundamentally true that one could argue that the attribute of “…is able to age indefinitely…” is part of the essential definition of being alive. DEATH then is the beginning of the next phase in which the attribute “…has stopped aging…” prevails for all those things that were once alive and are now dead.

With this attitude in mind I hope to make the best of the process of aging. I try to exercise regularly and eat in a healthy, balanced way, notwithstanding occasional excursions into chocolate chip cookie excess. When the inevitable aches occur, often themselves related to working out, I try to figure out what the cause may be and modify my routine. Usually a simple change in how I am running or the shoes I am wearing alleviates the problem. Switching from step-aerobics to swimming is a positive example of routine modification. Same thing applies to evaluating my diet. Over the past several years I have been shifting to more raw vegetables, fruits and whole grains in my diet. Simple changes like this have drastically improved my overall health, my sense of well-being, and my overall demeanor. Improved consciousness with respect to my diet and exercise choices is a key part of how I try to embrace the process of aging.

Discovering and choosing to employ this outlook has been very beneficial to me. So much so that I think that it is an essential factor in remaining young-at-heart while aging gracefully in an actualized and fully alive way.

“I am going to mess up your forehead” – Part I

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I am not a Doctor, so don’t take my word on this, but I am pretty sure that as skin cancers go, the one you want, if you have to have any, is a basal cell carcinoma. I think this is because it is the most manageable type, and has the lowest rate of recurrence assuming that it is properly diagnosed and treated, but again, I am not a Doctor.

Apparently basal cell carcinomas are caused by localized damage due to sun exposure. The good news with the basal cell variety is that they are not the spreading, malignant type. The bad news is that the frolicking, baked to a golden brown, summer fun in the sun of youth has come back to haunt in the form of an newly appearing irregularly shaped mole. Typically found on the face, neck or hands, these moles tend to be flaky with rough edges. The locations mentioned are common due to their increased exposure to the sun. As for those on the neck and face, the left side is more prevalent due to relatively more exposure through the driver’s side window.

Again, don’t take my word; if you suspect anything about a new mole, talk to your doctor.

I have had several of these things removed over the years and I have gotten over the initial shock of being told that I had even a benign cancer. These can often be removed with just the biopsy that is required for diagnosis. This latest one I was discussing with my doctor was different though. It was a little bigger and located in a place that threatened my vanity, however ridiculous that sounds. If not removed and “repaired” carefully the site of the surgery could compromise one of my best “features” – my smooth, nicely rounded forehead, right around the place that most people call the “hairline”.

Due to circumstances beyond my control my hairline has migrated drastically backward, and over the top of my head. Some people call this “baldness”, but I steadfastly reject this pejorative term. Close examination clearly will reveal that I am far from hairless up there – there are many, many hairs. They are arguably, very small, fine hairs; some might say vanishingly small, but I prefer to hold the line – I will admit to having “thin hair”, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Regardless, before being challenged with the looming prospect of surgery on my forehead, I had taken this fine feature of mine for granted. Given my admitted condition of having “thin hair” it helps a lot to be able to say that I have a nicely shaped, smoothly rounded head up there.

What with an unknowable amount of scraping and cutting that might be required to remove this potentially quarter-sized lesion I wasn’t quite sure how to feel or what to say. All I could come up with at the moment though was, pleadingly – “Doc, you’re not going to mess up my nice, smooth round forehead, are you?”


Friday, November 9th, 2007

An anecdote, shortly forthcoming, retelling my experience of handing out candy on Halloween, for the first time since becoming a homeowner nearly twenty years ago…