Tricky subject of age

Since my 80th birthday I have been pondering the tricky subject of AGE, and these ponderings have given rise to several observations.

Shakespeare nailed  getting older  in his ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from ‘As You Like It’, but in the modern world, nobody seems to accept these definitions.  Women particularly have a hard time.  Such comments like, ‘You do look good for your age‘ drive me mad. How should I look at 20, 30, 40, 50 etc. etc?  I have no idea.! But it is because of remarks like these that women go to huge lengths to look younger than they are, expecially in the States, where fortunes are spent on Botox and Face Lifts.  The end results of these procedures can often be disastrous, with the skin stretched so taut over the face it is difficult for a person to show any expression at all, let alone smile.  The personality and expression so important to an individual, is gone. And the treatments only last a few years and then have to be done again!  In a similar way, after giving birth, women are urged to ‘get their figures back,’ and the effort to do so can often lead to health problems, depression or eating disorders.  Huge emphasis is made in the media and women’s magazines on how women can look younger,  with advice on different diets and expensive make-up, in order to disguise the lines and wrinkles. It is an endless pursuit to ‘not look our age’.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am all in favour of diets and exercise regimes if they help people get healthier. But the emphasis is often on how we look, rather than on how we feel. Growing old is inevitable and there is a special beauty in each age. Rembrandt painted his mother ‘warts and all’ and it is a wonderful painting of an older woman.  Again I turn to Shakespeare who commented on the ageing Cleopatra, ‘Age cannot wither her,  nor custom stale her infinite variety..’ We have to be accepted for the age we are. The nicest compliment we can hope for is that we look well and healthy!  And the best way we can enjoy Shakespeare’s Seven Ages is to live life to the full. Of course men have an easier ride towards old age.  Nobody seems to mind about the pot belly and thinning hair.  Maybe there should be a female revolution.  Face lifts, botox and all the rest should be done away with.  We should just be allowed to grow old gracefully and in our own way.

This last month has been full of struggles with Covid and with the politicians. Covid, although better here with the vaccines, is not over yet, and it’s been terrible to see the suffering in India.  On a more positive note, in spite of the weather, flowers are beginning to bloom and my clematis is now in its full glory.