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Aging

BEING FOOLISH

By May 13, 2015December 9th, 2020One Comment

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.    Abraham Lincoln

You can easily fool yourself about the fact that you’re aging in appearance.  For a while.   I did it for many years.   Today, there are multitudes of cosmetic peddlers who are more than happy to convince you that their products will truly reverse time or make it stand still. They suggest that life will be happier and better if youth remains your obsession as it is theirs. Living in this bleeped up culture, we all drink some of the Kool- Aid, consciously or otherwise.

kool aidWe lived in an academic community when I was in my thirties.  I was certain that I fit right in with students and that anyone seeing me  in a dance class with these college age kids could easily mistake me for one of them.  I never did a fact check on that belief, but was more than happy to live with the illusion of prolonged youth.

danskins

By the time I was in my mid-fifties, there was no escape.  I confronted my personal moment of truth when my first granddaughter was born. Initially I felt pure excitement.  Then followed the inevitable assessment that my new life category carried some weightier significance along with it.

young grands

I understood for the first time, what had heretofore been an incomprehensible response from my father when I told him I was pregnant with my first child.

“That’s funny,” he said when given the news.   He didn’t mean funny ha ha. He wasn’t laughing.  He understood that an invisible line had been crossed.  He’d been bumped up a generation.  Mortality loomed larger.

The first time I pushed my granddaughter around in her McClaren stroller in her gentrifying, hip Brooklyn neighborhood, I was quite convinced that people would think she was my late-in-life daughter.  Didn’t happen. When I did interact with others on that first stroll, they would immediately say something to the effect of, “Isn’t is great to be a grandparent?”

No one ever considered me the mother of this infant.  Not for one minute.

pushing stroller

Busted.

Last night, my husband and I took our youngest two and a half year old granddaughter to swimming class.  My husband smiled a loving smile at her as she bravely floated on her back and gamely jumped into water over her head.  I realized I had the same sort of adoring smile on my face.  We were surrounded by energetic, youthful parents and their exuberant toddlers.  My energy level and sprightliness were no match.

There is no denial of our place on the aging hierarchy anymore.  Replacing it is something better perhaps; an acceptance and gratitude for the sweetness and many pleasures of our continuing role in the continuum of life.  And, at last, I can honestly say, no more fooling!

Dianne Vapnek

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

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