Sunday, January 8, 2012

Old Bags of Bones

I laughed so hard reading Susannah Bianchi's article in the latest issue of More magazine. Susannah talks about what it's like to be a woman of a certain age. Here is a brief excerpt, just to give you a taste:
Just when I got my brows under control, my jaw began to sag. I was stunned. What about all those upward-facing dogs I do, or the series of facial exercises (which, I'll admit, look more like tics) I perform, without fail, every day on the bus? [ . . . ] I did what any other hysterical, hormonally challenged 50-year-old would do: I became possessed. I spent most of my time in front of the mirror on a reconnaissance mission, waiting for the other jaw to drop. Out of nowhere, I seemed to have little satchels under my eyes, and laugh lines when I wasn't laughing. Add these to the occasional hot flash and a vagina as dry as a bran muffin, and I'll show you a weepy woman up on a ledge. I thought of all the ways I could handle aging without actually going under the knife. I could become a recluse like Greta Garbo, buying my groceries at the all-night Food Emporium, or just pack up and move to Japan, where they respect the elderly. ~ 'How George Clooney Saved My Self-Esteem', More, January 2012 ~
You will need to read the whole piece to know how George saved Susannah . . .

I can relate to Susannah's moments in front of the mirror. Not that I spend too much time there. But, yes, I too have had my share of surprises this past year. A few months ago, my previously smooth chin started to show some uncharacteristic bumpiness. Worried about cancer, I rushed to the dermatologist and was told to not worry. "It is just part of aging. Your skin is sagging unevenly, that's what's creating the dimple in your chin". More recently, my left knee has been acting out. A scan revealed a torn meniscus, worn knee cap, and a bit of arthritis. Yes, there is no mistaking the downward slide taken by this body that I call 'mine'.  This body is increasingly feeling like an old bag of bones in need of more and more maintenance. 

Not a big deal really. 

Of course, I have my practice to thank for this relative ease with what is objectively a rather unpleasant process. Without the understanding, and the acceptance of the true nature of this human life, and of impermanence, who knows how I would react?

How do you feel about aging?


  1. yes, humbling isn't it? i can identify with it all. we are definitely learning about the Buddha's words on the inevitability of "old age and death". really we don't believe it until we see it for ourselves in this first hand kind of way.

    love Susannah's humour, gotta read that piece. and how to approach it all with grace, that is the koan.

  2. Thanks, Carol. There is no substitute for actual seeing, indeed . . . Both inner and outer.

    Why I am so grateful for privilege of working with persons with dementia and the dying.

    Only then, can reality really 'sink in'.


  3. You are right when you say that aging is a process best met with an attitude of acceptance. Of course we will be surprised and annoyed by the less than pleasant changes that occur in our bodies as we get older. Therefore, we will have to remind ourselves again and again to accept what is a perfectly natural process.

  4. Yes, so much wiser than a trip to the plastic surgeon!

  5. Sometimes I actually laugh out loud when I realize a sign of age has actually settled in for residence...wrinkle here, age spot there and why has my reliable metabolism drifted away like a scorned lover? Wait a minute, that's actually happening to me? Or when a co-worker didn't know who Van Halen is...really? Said he probably wasn't born yet to know the band....ahh yes, might as well jump (hopefully not off the cliff) as reminders of growing older are everywhere. :)

  6. Reminders, yes, of the reality of life. Aging is a great teacher that way, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the truth of gross impermanence, right there for us to see and feel in this body. We are all heading toward the cliff . . .