Aging News Spotlight

2026-06-18 Spotlight: The Beauty of Embracing Aging

The Beauty of Embracing Aging

By Charles M. Blow, New York Times (free access)
June 6, 2024

As Evelyn Couch said to Ninny Threadgoode in Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”: “I’m too young to be old and too old to be young. I just don’t fit anywhere.”

I think about this line often, this feeling of being out of place, particularly in a culture that obsessively glorifies youth and teaches us to view aging as an enemy.

No one really tells us how we’re supposed to age, how much fighting against it and how much acceptance of it is the right balance. No one tells us how we’re supposed to feel when the body grows softer and the hair grayer, how we’re supposed to consider the creping of the skin or the wrinkles on the face that make our smiles feel unfortunate.

The poet Dylan Thomas told us we should “rage, rage against the dying of the light,” that “old age should burn and rave at close of day.” He died, sadly, before turning 40. . .

No matter how young you may look or feel, time refuses to rest. It forges on. I’m now right around the age my parents were when I first considered them old.

I’m not sure when the world will consider me old — maybe it already does — but I do know that I’m no longer afraid of it. I welcome it. And I understand that the best parts of many books are their final chapters. . .

I have no intention of raging against my aging. I intend to embrace it, to embrace the muscle aches and the crow’s feet as the price of growing in wisdom and grace; to understand that age is not my body forsaking me but my life rewarding me.
Aging, as I see it, is a gift, and I will receive it with gratitude.

Growing Old, With Grace and Aches

Older readers offer a range of perspectives in response to a column by Charles M. Blow.
New York Times (free access)
June 15, 2024

Jonathan Silin, Toronto:
At 80, I find myself riding a roller coaster of emotions. One day I am filled with gratitude for all the material and social resources from which I have benefited. On the next I find myself raging against a body that can no longer be relied upon and is clearly wearing out.

Sociologists tell me that some who reach old-old age experience a calming withdrawal from the kinds of complicated emotions marking the start of my ninth decade. Till then, I’m holding on tight, still thankful that the exhilarating, sometimes scary ride is not yet over.

Victoria Hudes Cavaseno, Brookline, Mass.:
The best advice I have received on how to age successfully was from my gynecologist. We discussed this about 15 years ago as I was approaching retirement age. Here is what she said:
Don’t gain weight.
Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Make friends with younger people.

My own suggestion is to fight against it with grace and tenacity.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Providence, R.I.:
I’ve been welcoming my gray hair by using it as an opportunity to realize my lifelong dream of being a redhead, and I figure that muscle aches are bad enough without my going through mental contortions in an attempt to “embrace” them.

David S. Cantor, Los Angeles:
Aging is a gift, a chance to keep growing, learning and experiencing life in new ways. It’s about defying limitations and embracing the possibilities that lie ahead. So, for anyone else pondering the future, remember: It’s not about passively accepting age, it’s about actively living each day to the fullest, wrinkles and all.

Kathleen Burns, Pleasant Prairie, Wis.:
As Mr. Blow so eloquently suggests, how many times will I play like this with my grandson? How much longer will he want to play with me? At my age, it is a gift to play.

Shirley Smithberg, New York:
Life is not as great as it used to be, but complaining about it makes it worse.