03 Jan Antiaging – The age defying generation
The fountain of youth may not be what you thought it was…
One… Two… Three… Like a doctor in an exam room I carefully comb over the image before me. Just short of a decade ago this mirror beheld the face of a teenage youth, ignorant of the reality that he could not out run age. After a moment of tracing these three forehead wrinkles with my eyes, I make my way to my head of hair. Speckles of grey weave themselves throughout my once thick mane. Two years ago I awoke on July 4th and faced my fear of the shocking reality that my hair was slowly passing away. (Hopefully I meet up with it again in heaven.) Rather than be tormented by its loss any longer, I reached for my electric hair trimmer and buzzed it off, liberating myself, so to say, on the 4th of July.
As I stood eye to eye and faced this fresh new image of self, I refused to hold any contempt towards the person in the mirror. He surely wasn’t 18, nor was he the Hollywood image of perfection, but nonetheless, he deserved my acceptance, adoration, and love. If I could not embrace him with open arms, then who would? Hidden behind the anti-aging billboards and commercials that promote creams, pills, suctions, nips, tucks, lifts, and implants is the shout of hustlers, demanding that we be condemned to a life of dissatisfaction with oneself. As though enough dissatisfaction will slow the wheel of death, and like a compass, somehow lead us to the fountain of youth where we can sip our self-hatred away. No amount of money, science, nor Barbie Doll plastic enhancements can make that disappear. Try as we may, aging is an inescapable juggernaut that won’t be stopped.
Two years later I stand with my hair grown out once again. Though I’m thin, I’m surely not bald, but plucking the grey hair is not option. (The more hair the merrier at this point.) Tilting my head left and right, up and down, I make my way to my neck where my beard hair on the front of my neck has traveled to the back and begun to intertwine itself with the hair traveling down the back of my head. Spreading to my shoulders and trickling down my back, I can see my father who, only two decades ago, I stood behind in the bathroom and watched as he hustled around in his tighty whities grooming himself for a day of work. His shoulders were a garden of hairs, and much like weeds, they were spreading across his back. The idea that I would one day be standing before a mirror, beholding his reflection as my own, was foreign and unimaginable to the mind of a nine-year-old child.
Simon Cowell, the famed face and personality of American Idol has been noted for his bi-yearly drive-thru botox injections and his refusal to be seen by others with “bed head”, not to mention that he refuses to look at his mistresses in the morning before they “put on their faces”. Clearly Simon is a man who has a much different take on grooming habits than my balding, hairy father who quickly ran a razor across his face and trimmed a few long hairs in his veritable mustache that he wore for years.
Simon, a picture of a much larger demographic of men who are haunted by the image of perfection, is the embodiment of the age-defying generation. Before, it was seemingly a “woman’s” issue, as they flocked by the droves to department stores and dug endlessly through skin care products that carried empty promises of age reversal. Now, a generation of “metro-sexual” men, who are simply “taking care” of themselves, have arisen to open their wallets (or man purses) and shell over excessive amounts of cash (or should I say credit) to get on the train leaving Agingville, which is headed nowhere fast.
Somewhere, hidden behind the mangled, plastic-stretched skin of his face, is a 59-year-old actor named Mickey Rourke. Once known for his handsome looks and talent, he’s now become a poster child for why people shouldn’t get “too much” plastic surgery in Hollywood. Sadly, it did more harm than good. Besides Rourke, many others have taken the leap to “maintain” their youthfulness, or “fix” something that seemed broken. This is where I would talk in depth about the mega-icon Michael Jackson, but in honor of the deceased King of Pop, I won’t even begin to tread that water.
Am I against surgery, creams, and pills? Is this going to turn into a rant about the big money profiteers driving the image-industry? No and no. This is simply about embracing life. As I look at my aging face, receding hairline, and mid section pudge, I am faced with the present reality that I am growing older. To some, it will be a harsh one. To those who find beauty in the journey of life, they will enjoy the feelings of wonder, excitement, and peace as they embrace the reality that they are growing older.
Why must we always covet the unattainable? When we’re seventeen we long to be older, to do what we want, to be an adult. As adults who are growing older with every passing day, we dream of being seventeen again. Heck, some of us even wake up midway through the journey so disgruntled and dissatisfied that we slap a label on it called a mid-life crisis, get a divorce, and start dating 19 year olds in hopes of reversing and alleviating the pain of it all.
In an image conscious society, where the impossibly, unattainable goal, dangling like a carrot on a stick just out of our reach, is the definition of beauty and acceptance, I am convinced that the fountain of youth that we search endlessly for is found behind the peaceful smile of an aged face that has come to embrace itself in a blissful rapture of self acceptance and love. Settling into who we are, not what we were, or maybe will be, is the compass that leads us to healing waters. Letting go of our concerns, fears, and insecurities…there, hidden in this Buddha-like concept, is a child dancing playfully in the showers of a warm summer rain. Behind the smile and sparkling eyes of this child lost in the moment is an imagination running wild with limitless dreams. Not taxed by the “hows” that eventually lead to the “cant’s”, this child simply plays and dreams. This is the fountain of youth, that we embrace our moment, our looks, our age, and we simply get lost again in the wonderment of the unburdened life of a child.
As I drove down the road the other day, I glanced into my rearview mirror and smiled from ear to ear. I am older and I won’t be getting younger any time soon. I looked at that man and after years of dissatisfaction I have truly come to embrace him. With genuine love and acceptance in my heart I said aloud, “I love getting older.”