The seven sins of ageing

Sis was slapping some gunk on her face which she’d been gifted by a friend – the gunk, that is, not the face. She was staying with me for the week, and we were in my bathroom doing morning getting-ready things. “Supposed to fight the seven sins of ageing” she said to me, reading the lies on the label out loud. She looked at the label again, “Oh, that’s the seven signs, not sins”. We guffawed, both at the error and at the marketing malarkey, shamelessly displaying old mercury fillings from our no pain-relief “murder house” youthful dentistry days. We’ve both been in this world for a while now, and we know that the seven sins of ageing can’t be fixed by gunk in a jar.

These days, we’re pretty chill with all the ills and thrills of ageing. There’s absolutely no point not being, because we’ve tried spitting in one hand and wishing in the other, and we know which one fills up first. Besides, we genuinely enjoy some of the things that ageing has brought to us. There’s a certain amount of freedom and release from angst that comes with it, and we do love that.

But there’s no denying that ageing is a sin in our youth-centric society, and I’m sure that the list of sins associated with ageing is longer than a measly seven.  As a younger woman, I can’t pretend that I was nice about older people, and now as an older woman I can be a bad ol’ bitch at winding up the younglings who have replaced me, because I know what buttons to push. I know – I’m awful. That release from angst I mentioned comes with a slowly disintegrating caring-about-what-others-think filter. Although I reckon I can be mighty good, kind and generous at times, I just don’t feel the need to be a good girl all the time. Judgement for that washes right off this ol’ duck’s back now. And that’s the first sin of aging.

There’s plenty more, and a discussion around that would prove to be a very long one, I suspect. However, I’ve limited myself to seven as I see them. There’ll be those who vehemently disagree with me, and those who think the sin list is fairly mild. I may revise it as I travel further through life, but for now –

  1. We just don’t care about stuff like we used to. We’ve seen it all before, just in different ‘clothing’. Conversely, we can enter into a fight for cause with a freedom of fierceness we didn’t have in our young and more accountable days.
  • We don’t muck around with being sensitive, and can be quite brusque, even rude! Sometimes, though, we know exactly the right things to say from our own experiences. We can give ourselves a big surprise with that one.
  • We cost money as we age, instead of contributing money. True. However, we can contribute by teaching our grandchildren all the things their parents don’t want them to know.
  • We’re not sexy. But we are free to have wayward bellies, boobs, and bums – bliss!
  • We can be out of control, when we should be toeing the line and not making waves. In our defence, someone’s gotta be the embarrassing one at family gatherings.
  • We’re a consumer society’s fail. We don’t spend money like we used to, and disappear from advertising – apart from adverts for stairlifts, reverse mortgages, and life insurance. We enter a covert world and can, paradoxically, openly become anarchists, because no one sees us anymore.
  • We have boring conversations. The trouble is we’ve talked ad nauseum about all the shite that everyone talks about, and we’ve run out any desire to keep talking about it. That’s why it’s important to become an anarchist. When the police arrive to arrest us at a family gathering, it improves our conversation for some time afterwards.

Try finding a fix in a jar for that lot.

I don’t know at what point we become old to ourselves, although we’re old to anyone at least ten years younger. I tend to think of myself as ’older’, not old, although, judging by the looks from my grand-nieces and nephew when I tell them my age, they would disagree. Neither Sis nor I hide our age from them, as we each decided a while ago at different times that we weren’t going to be ashamed of the word ‘older’, nor try and pretend we weren’t who we were. We’ve come too far not to wear it with self-respect, or enjoy the unique freedoms it brings. Not everyone sees it like I do, but I also realised a while ago that the saying “the truth sets us free” worked for me. It can be brutal, but finishing with pretence is liberating.

If I have any words of advice for the process of ageing, it’s do whatever you want because it’s your life, and why should you listen to me, anyway 🙂

header pic by: monika1607 | Pixabay

17 thoughts on “The seven sins of ageing

  1. Yes, that’s an entirely unexpected pleasure, as everything in the narrative about getting older is about decline and restriction. Whilst I don’t pretend that these things don’t happen, our world and our perspective also opens up in different ways.

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    1. I agree that those conversations can be very interesting. I was thinking more along the lines of older people not having as much drama – of the sort that interested me as a younger woman – in their conversations.

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  2. Do you really think Western society is more youth oriented? In the US, Congress and the White House is filled with gray heads. People in corporate marketing may be younger or trying to pass themselves off as younger, but most of the wealth in the US is concentrated in the over-50 demographic. Younger people may buy more stuff than us, mostly because they have to (just starting out, new homes, new families), which advertisers and corporations like, but young people generally have less money in the bank. (Emphasis on “generally:” I also know many seniors living on the edge of poverty.)

    But yeah, if I had known growing old was going to be this much fun, I would have done it a lot earlier. 😉

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    1. Yes, power and wealth is generally held more by older people in every society. By youth-centric society, I guess I mean socially, rather than politically or economically.

      I like your last comment – that made me laugh. I understand the sentiment totally, although I’m picking that neither of us would have actually wished it before our time 🙂 However, it was a very pleasant surprise to get here and find that it wasn’t the awful thing I’d heard about, or viewed it as. I’m enjoying it greatly, even though I fully acknowledge what else comes with it.

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  3. Karen

    Katrina, a delight to read and I couldn’t agree with you more! I really enjoy embarrasssing younger people now, whothink they know it all, lol! Possibly your finest, or at least most relatable for me,
    piece of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “…someone’s gotta be the embarrassing one at family gatherings.” LOLed the loudest at that one. I love it, even though, although I’m old (64), I still am too darn well behaved to want to draw much attention to myself. Except at jury duty…there I’ll be as crazy and embarrassing as can be to get rejected as a juror, so much so that I wonder if I’m on some list now. I’d like to be a juror if only they’d not send me to a court 20 miles from home in a pretty rough city (Santa Ana).
    I relate to your dread of dentists btw; in your previous article and here you mentioned them. They may need to replace their arm rests after my nails have dug into them, starting from the first sight of those scary tools until the dentist walks out of the room for the last time. I avoid them so much that I’m using SDF on a cavity that’s in a bad wisdom tooth…bad because it was impacted for ages then finally sprouted, with decay already. WTH? SDF (Silver Diamine Fluoride) is like a miracle for dental phobes, if you can get it, and if you have the nerve to apply it yourself every few months or so. Some dentists will do it, but not all, as they’d rather drill and fill.

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  5. Interesting about the SDF – I didn’t know about that. Not sure I’d be into it, but still interesting to know.

    Did I write ‘wee’ somewhere? I can’t see it, but maybe I did and then corrected it later. The word ‘wee’ is both a euphemism here for urine, and a Scottish-derived word meaning small 🙂

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    1. I’m the one who typoed “wee” when quoting you saying “we.”

      SDF (about $50 for a tiny bottle but you only use a drop per application) has been in use for a very long time; it’s only for back teeth because it turns decayed areas black. Unless some people don’t care how it looks on front teeth. It’s really interesting how it works. You can of course look it up if interested. So far, it’s saved me having to have drilling & filling done on that tooth.

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  6. I’m also 64 in about five weeks, and have been unfortunately well-behaved for most of my life, too. It’s true that I have had some out of character (or were they?) adventures and transgressions along the way, but was too timid to truly embrace ‘bad’. However, the older I get, the less timid I am and the more willing to not give a rat’s arse about being ‘good’. Lucky my body is no longer young and ‘bullet proof’ otherwise I could be dangerous – lol! Having said that, I do try and keep my ‘bad’ under wraps at family gatherings, but I have to say that it’s more of an effort now than it used to be 🙂 It’s quite fascinating to observe who people are afraid of letting off the leash in case of unpredictable behaviour, and who they’re comfortable with being off the leash. I include myself in “people”.

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    1. Hah, I’ll bet you’ve have some notable adventures and transgressions! I want so much to be good at being bad, but I’m so bad at it, lol. I’d call myself “inappropriate” more than bad, often hearing a stern, “Um, Ma’am, you can’t…” (fill in the blank with some oddball stunt). 😇

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      1. Inappropriate is probably more my actual ‘bad style’’, too. Sigh. However, I must admit that there’s a certain group of people (who shall remain nameless) I’m done being polite to, and I have no compunction being bad to them 😊

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