Aging & Character: Coming Into Being

By on November 11, 2011

By Jesse Mendes –

It has long been curious to me how midlife is so often regarded as something dismal to withstand, and those of us who appear to defy aging are hailed as role models. The unspoken message that surrounds all of us is, to get respect, stay young. The anti-aging movement is huge. And yet the very meaning of the word “anti-” is to be opposed to or against. It’s one thing to want to maintain health and vitality into our later years, and admirable, indeed. It’s quite another to invest exorbitant amounts of time and energy into resisting an inevitable process.

I’m talking about attitude, here. If we assume a mentality that fights aging, how can we possibly reap the benefits of it?

I am of the conviction that there is a deep relationship between aging and the development of character. That aging is a process of “coming into being” in the most profound sense of the term. That we can find a depth of experience and a richness of life that comes organically from a life well lived, or from lessons properly learned from. In what Suzanne Braun Levine calls our “second adulthood”, we discover things about our nature that can change us, and show us who we are in a way we never imagined possible.

So what is this “second adulthood”, and how have we gotten to the point where the opportunities it brings are all too often shrouded in our fear of aging? Inevitably, then, we endure this midlife passage as more of a “crisis”, and it is portrayed in media and film as our last desperate grasp on youth before the final resignation to the “reality” of getting old. James Hillman once said that the main pathology of later years is our idea of later years. Instead of viewing aging as a “coming into being”, we resort to drastic measures in order to defy nature, and to prove to ourselves that we’ve “still got it”.

Which is tragic. Because, as Hillman points out, this crisis “compounds two fears: I am getting on in years, yet am I getting on with what I really am? Aging and character together. This popular syndrome is less about the middle of the life span than about the central crisis of one’s nature, less about being too old than about being still too young. Not loss of capacity; loss of illusion.”

What does all of this mean? What is the relationship between aging and character? I am getting on in years, yet am I getting on with what I really am? Instead of being victimized by aging, what would it be like to own it; to mark our entry into midlife as a sacred life passage?

What might it be like to live a life unencumbered by the obsession with youth?

Jessica Mendes is a freelancewriter who specializes in a form of ghostwriting that focuses on translatingthe “spirit” of a person or their message to the page. She is a passionate advocate of the inherent wisdom, beauty and intelligence of the older woman, and the force behind SeptemberMay, a dating site (due to launch soon) that will celebrate them. Please stop in to visit her at: http://septembermay.blogspot.com/.

About Jessica Mendes

Jessica Mendes is a free lance writer who specializes in a form of ghostwriting that focuses on translating the “spirit” of a person or their message to the page. She is a passionate advocate of the inherent wisdom, beauty and intelligence of the older woman, and the force behind SeptemberMay, a dating site (due to launch soon) that will celebrate them. Please stop in to visit her at: http://septembermay.blogspot.com/.

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Aging & Character: Coming Into Being