By Jill Chapin
January 19, 2014
If you were a fan of George Carlin, you will recall his take on aging as we travel through each decade and how we change our answer to the question, How old are you? Remember when we were younger than ten years old and excited about our growing independence? Back then we thought in fractions. I’m four and a half!
In our teens, he says, we rounded up to the next year – I’m gonna be 16! And then the greatest birthday of all is when we become 21!
Then, we turn 30, like bad milk. After that, we’re pushing 40, we reach 50, make it to 60, and then he believes that because we’ve built up so much speed, we hit 70. Still, according to Carlin, by the nineties, we start going backwards, as in I was just 92. And if we should make it to 100, we become a kid again with I’m 100 and a half!
Throughout George Carlin’s jovial journey through life, there are also certain expectations of what we will look like as the decades roll by.
We can say with certainty that babies have dewy skin and random uncoordinated movements. Young children have limber limbs and an overabundance of energy.
Teenagers may or may not have the flawless skin of their younger days, but it is still firmly affixed to their underlying bones. They generally have a great deal of flexibility and energy when they aren’t exhausted from growing – literally.
From our twenties on, we begin to notice the gradual, subtle but inevitable changes in how we walk and stand, and how our skin and other body parts ever so slowly retreat in a southerly route. Our resilience to injuries and general aches and pains is not what it used to be; physical endurance is often compromised as our stamina slowly but surely diminishes over the years.
Or not. Because even though time marches on, some of us manage to take our own sweet time in that inexorable progression called life. Haven’t we all known people who defy our expectation of how old we think they are, being wildly off by decades in guessing their age? Sure, sometimes they look way older than their chronological age, but the ones who look way younger are truly an inspiration to anyone wanting to slow down our bodies’ passage through the decades.
Genetics definitely plays a role, but it’s not necessarily the starring role. What we do with what we’ve got deserves at least equal billing. And the perfect blend of nature and nurture can be seen in two women I know from Curves where I am a member – owner Sheri Fagan and circuit coach Judy Bennett. What they have done with their DNA to enhance their health, stamina and appearance is truly remarkable. They are gorgeous examples who prove we don’t have to go gently into the night.
Gloria Steinem once shared the story of a man who approached her shortly after she turned forty, and admiringly told her that she looked great for forty. Miss Gloria did not find that comment one bit flattering. So she gave him a withering look, pointed at herself, and told him that this is what forty is supposed to look like.
Take a look at these two women I was telling you about. This is what your fifties are supposed to look like.