The other day I read a phrase in a book title: The Joy of Aging. My response was less than enthusiastic. My mind went back to the book The Joy of Sex. As a child of the 60’s and 70’s, and the “make love not war”generation, I was impressed that a explicit book about the joy of sex actually got published in 1972. It really is a “classic”now. I have fond memories from my days at the book store and how the book was relocated around the store by furtive giggling teenagers. The manager and I drew the line at the children’s section, but finding the book in History or Travel barely raised our eyebrows. Of course I read it AND looked at the pictures. Sex is supposed to be fun, but aging? Not so much. I just remembered a series of books for “dummies”; Gardening for Dummies, Knitting for Dummies etc…. Funny I never saw Sex for Dummies or Aging for Dummies even though it seems us dummies need a great deal of help in these areas.
What are the joys of aging? I have to give that question some thought. It is much easier to list the sorrows of aging! There is no joy in wrinkles, turkey neck and upper arms that flap in the wind. It is humbling to see looks of exasperation on young people’s faces when I desperately need computer help for things they learned in grade school. Going from “miss” to “ma’am” is a giant painful leap for me. When I add up my years I know I am well past the halfway point unless I live until 132! Sorry to say that even the joys of sex are not included among my joys of aging. I don’t remember a chapter on aging in The Joy of Sex, but when I first read it getting old was not on my radar! These sorrows are only the tip of the iceberg—but remember the Titanic.
I am a realist and a grateful optimist; so I ask again what are the joys of aging? The standard reply to complaints about aging, “Consider the alternative.” has merit. I am alive and there are possibilities and joys to experience along. Life is a mixed bag for sure. I stopped coloring my hair and it’s a lovely shade of gray; saves time and money. When I walk past a group of young men I am glad I am invisible, sticking my chest out and sucking my gut in at the same time was never easy! My “center” is a lot stronger now and I can go with the flow or trust myself and my opinions, if I need to draw a line in the sand. Believing it doesn’t matter or I don’t care is very freeing. With age I have learned not everything is worth worrying or agonizing over, in fact very little is. I’m not trying to impress anyone and no longer need to canvas the world before I make a decision. Because I am not obsessing over my value I can see the Downy Woodpecker in the tree or the doves marching like they are is a military parade. My love is deeper and my laugh is deeper. With time, my failures become good stories and I try to say “yes” to life as much as I can. I have lots more joys of aging, but I’ll stop here.
So there’s lots of joys to be had with sex and aging, maybe even at the same time.