Aging Well

By Julie Newmar

It's time to rewrite the rules.

It was only two years ago that youth left me. Hate me or not, middle age didn't happen to me; a privilege undeserved, or unobserved. In August of this year, I will be 80. It is time to cross the Rubicon and come to terms with the best of myself. There is no more time for "unsuccess". I give myself four seconds to go from a losing to a winning thought, a life giving one. What if Sydney Pollock or Elizabeth Taylor lived to be 80?

My hair is mostly white now, but with daily sprits of sheen it gleams almost pure silver. Like Clint Eastwood, I've kept a flat belly. I like the fact he can wear a plain T-shirt and scowl at some pretending offender. My spine is straight. I don't look down on those with their imagined weaknesses. I ignore irrelevance, poor speech, bad manners and those awful screeching female reporters on TV whose voices sound like they are crunching on a mouthful of beetles.

It's curious sometimes how life seems to reverse itself, when what was the strongest virtue in our lifetime becomes our weakest trait. Those dancers who can't walk, singers whose voices croak, a seamstress who can't see. In this fall from grace, from our former powers, we think that nature or God has damned us; this is not so. It is more like a peeling away of consumed fruit revealing our infinite but not yet explored core. There waiting is the next discovery, a new platform or stage to revel in.

What's so great about “agefying”? It is the power that having distance gives us. It's the view from the top. At 80, you have patience. Patience is like a magical chess game; the magic part is being able to see six, seven steps ahead. Been there, done that stupid thing. Don't need this strife anymore. As my thinking goes today, I win and I do, by making sure I always see others as winners.

Ask and it will be given. This is easier than you may think. Food, things, the good stuff flow to me. True, I don't any longer race out to the post office and markets. In place I've created a remarkable delivery system. I call it: You do this for me. I am kinder, decidedly, but a lot less tolerant of those who practice life as a soap opera. Maybe it is a safety valve but I chose to live on top of my discomforts as well as diseases. I don't discuss, indulge in, support causes for, join chat groups, war against that which ails and annoys me. It's simply wastes energy. I can discuss unpleasant subjects, but in a less passionate and more general way.

Another great virtue of age is to rise above the need to be seen or carry weight in situations of unnecessary stress. Strife is wholly unnecessary. Strife wins you nothing. It is self-inflicted and tenders depression.

Being thin is good, though not necessary. You don't see an 80 year old weighing 300 pounds. Nor any 60 year old weighing 300 pounds who are actually healthy. Eat less, it's cheaper. Then you can have, like me, anything you like.

The other evening around 8 PM, when the light outside was what cinema photographers refer to as golden, I sat silently for over an hour with my son observing the intense, almost palpitating color of the flowers in my garden. The hummingbirds were still sipping sweet nurture from their favorite tubular blossoms. Bliss, ecstasy and a good garden can extend life.

Dance is my art, but the theme of my life is beauty of which a major part is discipline. I listen with the inner ear so that harmony can occupy the higher spaces and let intuition tell me what to do next.

So, let us not confuse nature’s progress with lazy avenues of lament. If we don't see the positive picture in aging, it won't be ours to have.

Perhaps, if we get out of our own way, we can desire and let be. Yes, that's it. To age successfully one must not be in resistance. Resistance and ill health go together. So there you have it. Now let's have fun.