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What’s wrong with old?

Own your age

By MSNLiving Jan 30, 2012 4:35PM

By Rich Maloof

The best moment at last year’s Oscars came when screenwriter David Seidler  accepted his award for penning “The King’s Speech.” White-haired and a little paunchy,  Seidler gathered himself at the microphone and said, ““My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer.”

What a great turn, there in a theatre full of ageless celebrities, to admire the late-in-life accomplishments of a 73-year-old man. Seidler had stammered as a child, and didn’t even get to Hollywood until he was 40. But onstage in front of the forever-young people America envies most, he offered a reality check on a well-lived life.

Why do we worship youth even when our own was no great shakes? The teenage years, when remembered clearly and not through a gilded memory, were for most a mix of anxiety, acne, and social agony. The next decade wasn’t much better. Just find a twenty-something kid and ask him or her (look for someone in an Arcade Fire t-shirt appearing vaguely shell-shocked); most are lacking in a meaningful career, crashing through relationships, and living at home. Oo, fun.

What we want, really, is to have an adult within an unaged body. “I wish that I knew what know now when I was younger,” as a great old song goes. But we can’t go back and get the girl who got away or make another bid to be homecoming queen. So how much longer should we bemoan the facial lines, the loosening jowls, the softening muscles? Better to own them as outward signs of wisdom and insight than suffer pop culture’s preference for tight buns and shiny hair.

We’re tough on ourselves when our butts and bellies won’t fit into slim-fit jeans, but aging is an opportunity to cast off the youth-driven fixation on appearance. For an older person, youthfulness is a useless distraction. To fulfill true potential we have to accept the gift of age graciously and move on to higher goals. Otherwise we’re just wasting time. Youth obsession has hijacked America’s values and steered us into shallow waters. To tell you the truth, it’s getting old.


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