Wabi Sabi Aging

Recently I heard that Horshack died. He was only 63.

No, I never knew him personally, he was an actor named Ron Palillo who was best known for playing a nerdy guy on the TV show Welcome Back Kotter that I used to watch in the 1970’s.

63….wow that’s young.

He wasn’t much older than me……

How in the world did I get to be an age where nearly every day I read about someone dying and my first thought is,

“Oh my, they were too young to be dead?”

25 years ago if you had asked me to make a list about what “old” people talk about it would have looked like this:

1) their aches, pains and general health conditions

2) who was dead or about to die

3) money and the rising cost of everything

4) the way things “used to be.”

If you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me “how old are you?” my immediate response would probably be, “I’m 36.”

And, therein lies the disconnect.

 I am 59 ½. I added the “half” recently because I found out that

a) this is my exact age and

b) I can now take money out of my IRA without any penalties.

I am on the cusp of being “old.” And, I don’t know how to “hold” this.

Or be with it.

Or wrap my head around it.

How can I be “old?”

I don’t feel old, I don’t think I look old,

I don’t want to be old!

Last night I was talking to my friend Nancy who is 90 (and ¼). Yes, Nancy is old. And yet she’s not. Not in the way other 90 year olds are old. She still works ( she reaches meditation in her home). She still travels (just got back from 5 weeks in Hawaii) She still hikes up and down the hills in her home everyday. Her biggest complaint is that the DMV won’t renew her drivers license. (long story, I think they are agist profilers)

Nancy is definitely my role model for living a long, relatively healthy life (in spite of several surgeries and bouts with cancer she always bounces back). Observing her closely for more than 20 years, its clear to me that her positive attitude, endless curiosity, meditation practice and deliberately healthy lifestyle are her formula for success.

So, when I am talking to Nancy, I am aware that I am not old yet.

But I’m close, very, very close.

For months now I have been thinking about this. You might even say I have become obsessed with trying to figure out how to come to terms with aging.

I want to figure out a win/win solution here.

How do I age gracefully and still be active, have fun, look good, feel good, be productive, and not be in denial?

What is the wabi sabi of aging?

Your comments are needed and most welcome.


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10 Responses to Wabi Sabi Aging

  1. Sunny James says:

    I believe your question contains your answer: one ages gracefully BECAUSE one does all of those things.

    To look good and feel good at any age means staying active and practicing a healthy lifestyle. Having fun keeps us in touch with our inner child. How we define “productive” may change, as it often does throughout life for different reasons. Some aspects of aging are unavoidable, but good health and a vibrant attitude will contribute a great deal to slowing down the aging process on the body. And nothing ages our mind but our own choices, perceptions and not using it enough! lol

    I’m passionately engaged in life, full of curiosity and open to new ideas and experiences. People often think I’m much younger than my years, because who I am inside outshines the small details of what my outside may look like.

  2. Claude says:

    Hello everybody

    Long time ago, a little girl has told to my mother : ” YOU are not old, but only your AGE is old”.
    Now I’m “59 (1/4 !) years … young”, and I still repeat this sentence to myself, and to everybody who wants to listen to it.

    Thank you for your blog.


  3. marion says:

    That shouldn’t be too difficult. Working from the inside out by loving yourself is a wonderful starting point. Its not about being egotistic or feeling conceited or convincing yourself your better than the next person. In all areas of your life and everything you do and touch be mindful of loving, honoring and respecting yourself. In fact its something we can embrace at any age. Its the foundation from which all good relationships flow. Celebrate your laugh lines. Love yourself from the inside out and your vibration will naturally rise. You’ll be beaming at any age. That’s the true secret to the fountain of youth.

  4. Jana says:

    I am closing in on 60 years old, and never has the prospect of a birthday riveted my attention the way this one is. “Why?” I’ve been asking myself. It’s the notion or fact, that I probably have less years to live here than I’ve lived here so far. Wabi-sabi aging for me is perhaps (I’m still looking) is about a bucket list of fun. Remember that T-shirt that said, “Oh! I forgot to have a baby!” w/a cartoon woman holding a hand to her forehead and looking stricken. I’ve been thinking that I while I do enjoy my life, I don’t want to get old (whenever that will be) and say, “Oh! I forgot to have fun!”. A colleague of Arielle’s says, “Play until you feel like resting. Rest until you feel like playing.” Very childlike. Simple. Wabi-sabi aging must also be a way of letting it be easy. Smiling. Laughing. Singing. Dancing. I’m taking Goddess Ballet classes now. Much appreciation, Arielle, for this post, and for sharing the many faces of wabi-sabi with your readers.

  5. Eli says:

    I’ve often thought the same things, though I’m still quite a bit younger. I recently read an amazing book called “Younger Next Year”, by Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge. Turned my life around!

    I also regularly watch videos on YouTube of people who are vital and healthy well beyond most of their peers. There are many. Look up the search terms “old bodybuilder”, “old fit people”, and “old healthy” etc, etc.

    It’s a real paradigm-smasher.

    Hope that helps.

  6. I tell my shocked self that even though I am 58 and a half and have three adult children and a 15 year old granddaughter who towers above me, I am only half way to 120! Yes, 120 is my set point and I plan on excellent self care each day of my wonderfully crazy life.
    I am equally in angst about aging and laughing in it’s gently sagging face. It’s my opportunity for living in gratitude when I look at the image looking back at me in the mirror of my discontent. I start telling my wonderful arms and legs and belly and thighs and breasts and cheeks and yes, even my hands that I am so grateful for all they have carried me through and for all the experiences we share. I am so blessed that they are all attached and work so beautifully. I can run and skip and love and touch and all that makes every piece of me exquisite. My mission is to love myself with complete wonder and joy that I have a body to take me where I want to go and to share love with the amazing people in my world. I give myself permission to be my eternally youthful soul in this sexy 58 yr young body of mine. I’ll welcome lots of affirmation and I am sending you a big package full of them for your fabulous 59 and a half yr. young self! Wabi Sabi!

  7. PS, you are gorgeous inside and out and you bring such light and joy to the world. Love looks beautiful coming from you. It’s part of you. It IS you.

  8. Lyndy says:

    1. Accept that your internal or psychological age does not necessarily match your chrinological age. Nearly all my life, my mom has told me to expect that at some point, I would cease to age internally. She & my dad are in their 80s, but she still tells me that this has remained true for them. I believe her. I turned 50 this year, and shortly thereafter came to the realization that it is true for me, too. I’m 34. Despite the physical realities of aging and the toll that multiple chronic medical conditions have taken, I am 34 inside. I accept it and, more importantly, I embrace that truth. Whenever I have difficulty with embracing my internal age, I think of a certain person from my past. I knew him in college and on through his 20s and 30s. He was about 70 years old then, and he’s that old now, maybe even a bit older than that — despite the fact that chronologically, he’s still in his early 50s. Somehow, its not hard for me to accept the disparity between his internal and chronological ages — not when he was 25, and not now. I figure that if he can have the big of an age differential, so can I. And I’m going to savor how lovely 34 feels for the rest of my life!

  9. Lyndy says:

    2. Embrace the beauty of the imperfections that will come with age. Many, you may be able to avoid, or at least delay, by living life exactly the way you describe. But age your body will. Acknowledge the realities, but don’t dwell on the negative aspects of them. Instead, just as you embrace your husband’s imperfections and find beauty within them, give that same gift of compassion and love to yourself. If your hips hurt and perhaps need replacing, think of how those joints allowed you to walk the halls with a fussy baby until he finally fell asleep or run a marathon or walk along the beach with your soulmate. Then, love those joints,while accepting that they have earned the right to complain a bit. Having difficulty remembering what happened yesterday. Accept it, then savor the memories of days long past that you are still able to recall. There is no magic required in applying the principles of wabi sabi love to yourself. If you encounter difficulties in that, just substitute what you would tell your beloved were s/he struggling with aging …