As you age, you might rejigger your self-concept in several ways: If you’re afraid of getting older—or of dying—you can deny your advancing age. If you’ve already faced partial decrepit-ness, you might have already adjusted your body image to accept what’s happening to your capabilities or physical traits. If you’ve ignored the aging process, you can wake up and smell the coffee.
At some point, though, you may come to what looks like the final stop in your physical decline—let’s say residence in a skilled nursing facility. Your self-concept may have started to crumble, but now it really takes a tumble. “I’m one of the people I’m seeing here” occurs to you in a startling moment. You look around at the residents, each with obvious signs of frailty or difficulty, and you realize that they are looking at you with the same thoughts or questions: “Do I look and act like that?” “Am I that bad off?”
Here’s one good thing that can come from that perception: When you answer “YES!” to those questions, you can finally put aside any pretense about staying young or self-reliant. The humbling process may be overwhelming, but there’s this, too: Now you’ve finished battling the inevitabilities of aging; you can stop pretending, posturing or faking it. You can look at your wrinkles and bruises, your droopings and droolings, your fading capabilities and growing vulnerabilities. You can say, “Yes, this is who I am. And by God, there’s something good here, too!”
When you cross over into that way of thinking, it’s possible that you can also find what you’ve been missing earlier in life: Beauty, worth, spiritual depth and value don’t depend on how well your body works or acts!
And you can rejigger your life into a continuing adventure again….