Changing Bodies

Bodies are weird.

Fascinating and stuff, too, but ultimately weird. The number of changes – large and small – that each of us goes through over the course of our lives is astronomical, really. And everyone is so different, despite many similarities. I admit to being concerned on occasion about accidentally getting some human on me when I ride public transit. The myriad of skin conditions and odours and levels of filth can be overwhelming sometimes.

It’s easy to become a bit of a germaphobe in the city. People are always touching things and spitting and coughing and greasy and…just yeah. I try not to get too much human on me if I can help it. I’ll pet a dog I’ve never met before on instinct, but I really don’t want strangers touching me or getting them on my stuff.

I wonder if any of us really sees ourselves when we look in the mirror. Or if anyone else sees what we see of ourselves. Or if anyone knows what we see when we look at them, and vice versa. With so many changes happening all the time, and growing older every day, how could anyone ever really keep up with the present? Especially when we’re pretty much mired in the past and focused on the future?

Editing & Aging

Confession time!  Despite my declaration that I would be honest in this space, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t keenly aware of the possibility of an audience, and therefore self-edit as I write.

There are people I hope read it, as often I am trying to learn to talk to them in particular.  There are some I hope don’t read it, for various reasons depending on the circumstance.  There are billions I just don’t care one way or the other about.

Though having a billion views would be insane and cool, now that I think about it.

Anyway, it’s not that I’m intending to spew falsehoods here.  But I definitely don’t intend to tell the whole truth every time.  And there will always be way more that I don’t write about, because, you know, life.  But if you find I reveal more to you specifically than I do online in a more public forum like this, then you’ll know you’re someone I trust with more of me than the norm.  And as someone who writes creatively from time to time, the mere fact that I don’t write several drafts of each post prior to letting anyone read it is proof that this is all at least more raw and real than my other works!

So, moving on, lately I’ve been thinking about aging.  Not in terms of getting old, but in terms of getting older.  The hate directed at Carrie Fisher for whether or not she has “aged well”, for example.  What does that even mean?  How does someone age well?

I already know I can’t age gracefully, because grace is not a word that would ever be ascribed to ANYTHING I do.  Graceful, I am not.  There is no reason to think it could be a way I’d age.  Or even walk.

But to age well?  How does one do that?  Does it mean fighting the effects of aging in an attempt to appear as though one has not aged at all?  Because that would seem to be without grace or doing it well, as your attempts still won’t stop it from happening, nor will it stop the Earth from turning, so ultimately you will have failed.  And failing does not mean you did something well.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

So aging well must instead mean embracing the process and accepting the things you can’t change, while simultaneously understanding that every line, wrinkle and scar is there because you lived.  You’re living.  You’re alive. You grabbed life by the balls and participated in it.  Created it.  You got on the ride and held on for dear, well, life.  You laughed, and cried, you loved, and lost, you smiled and frowned.  You worked, you played, you created and destroyed.  You were here, and you have a story to tell.  Even as your story is still being written.

And when you look in the mirror, you see someone you know and love looking back at you, but it’s weird because that person is WAY older than you see them in your head.  The you in your head is young and vibrant and in many ways still just a child, but with the ability to legally purchase alcohol.  Maybe you even have children of your own, or pets, or a plant, yet there is the occasional quiet voice in the back of your head that’s, like, “Who’s brilliant idea was it to give ME a kid/dog/hibiscus?”

Maybe on the inside, none of us ever age.  Maybe on the inside, we are forever young, and no matter how old our bodies are, we still want someone to take care of us when we’re sick, or fix things for us when we’ve been irresponsible, or just go out and play with us for awhile.

Carrie Fisher said her body hasn’t aged as well as she has, and those words ring very true to me.  I spend my days in an unpredictable body that I barely recognize as my own, thanks in part to MS, and when I look in the mirror I’m usually startled to see what the outside world must see when they look at me, because it’s just the very surface of who I see in my head.

Maybe aging well means finding the balance between those two realities, and then finding a way to express that balance.

I’m thus interested to see how well a generation of selfie-takers age.  Will they do better or worse than those of us who didn’t grow up taking photos of ourselves every day, keenly unaware of what we look like most of the time?  I wonder.

In the meantime, though, it’s Sunday afternoon and the sun is currently shining.  I’m gonna take Brody the doggie to go outside and play for awhile.  After I wake him from his nap.