Facebook’s latest meme is called, “How hard has aging hit you?” If you didn’t get the memo, you’re supposed to post your very first profile picture (typically from 2008 or 2009) alongside your current picture – roughly a ten year gap. And then, you’re supposed to see how badly you’ve aged.
Let’s just break this down for a moment. Implicit in the title are several axioms. One, that aging has, indeed “hit you”; two, that aging is by definition bad; three, that it can be determined from two photos; four, that it’s a competition.
I participated in the fun, because that’s how I roll (also because I like the way I’ve aged, heh heh). But really I recoil against all four axioms.
Aging happens to everyone. There is only one alternative to aging, and that’s death. My father will forever be 30 to me, because that’s when he passed. He wasn’t blessed to get wrinkles and bad memory and weak knees.
We can use all the anti-wrinkle cream in the world, engage in all the extreme fitness, eat only kale, do Sudoku to forestall dementia, and get plastic surgery – we will still age. Our physical bodies will slow down. Our muscles and joints will age. Our minds will blur.
These are inconvenient but not bad. They remind us that life is fleeting and that our days matter. They signal the passage of time so we can hug our loved ones a bit tighter and cherish our time together just a bit more desperately. All the multi-million dollar companies in the world can’t sell you that.
Photos can and do lie. I may look great (or terrible) in a photo, and there a million filters I can use to enhance it. Wouldn’t it be fun if we posted a family photo on Facebook complete with small captions about what’s really brewing beneath the perfectly curated smiles? Kidding. It wouldn’t be fun at all. But it would be eye-opening. Maybe even breathtaking.
What has changed in the past ten years is our souls. Shifting the focus from body to soul is seismic. In the past ten years, I’ve deepened, grown. I’ve cried, learned to peer beneath the surface, and truly discovered compassion. I’ve made important mistakes and now know things I didn’t previously know. I’ve hurt people’s feelings and learned more about feelings. I’ve apologized and learned more about apologies. I’ve raised five teenagers and learned about love and independence and individuation and humbleness.
Aging has hit me – the real me – well.
Each wrinkle is a sign of change. Each moment of weariness is a testament to a life well-lived. Each forgetful moment is a shining advertisement for the many, many thoughts that swirl around my busy brain – each competing for sovereignty.
Imagine if we could post a picture of the us from ten years ago, and the us of today, and instead ask the better question: how well has aging hit your soul this decade?
We are learning, growing, loving beings. We are so much more than competitive bodies that desperately ache to forestall aging. Let’s join hands and celebrate that. That’s a meme I’ll get around.