It’s at the point of exhaustion that people separate into two groups.
For the love of mercy, have I really reached the appearance where young men — and I mean under twenty-five — who find themselves sexually attracted to me feel the need to flatter me about my age?! I say reached “the appearance” and not “the age,” because I passed the actual age obscenely long ago.
But you and I aren’t doing math today. As it is — and there’s a wink involved here — my ego’s a bit shot with this uphill blogging business and how hard I’ll have to work to prove myself to you. Don’t we all want everyone to automatically know how great we are? Realizing it just doesn’t work that way is exhausting. I’m convinced it’s exactly at the point of exhaustion setting in that people separate into two groups: Those who give up, and those who keep going. Look at Diana Nyad! I’m not so much one to refer to pop culture or current events, because enough people do, but this woman completing her hundred-mile swim from Cuba to Florida on her fifth attempt, brought me to tears yesterday.
I was as devastated for her two years ago when she had to be pulled out of the water before reaching her goal, which she had been pursuing for over thirty years, as I was thrilled for her yesterday. She is 64-years-old and right out of fifty-three hours in sharky waters, swollen-lipped and all, she told the gathered crowd, “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.” I’m also not much for overused sayings, but this superhero of a woman lived it. She gets to say whatever she wants.
Notice her age is not the first factor I emphasize. The accomplishment lies in the fact that she made the hundred-mile swim unaided (without a shark cage), when no one else ever did! It’s remarkable that she happens to be sixty-four, but if she were twenty-four, would the accomplishment be any less impressive?
Even when people tell each other, “Wow, you look great for [insert age],” they don’t seem to realize it isn’t praise at all. Can’t a person simply “look great,” full stop? Do they need reminders of the other two statements implicit in the non-compliment — not just, “by the way, you’re old,” but also, “society thinks being old sucks?” Let’s remember that at the core, praising each other on our appearance is bizarre anyway, since the way our features look is not an accomplishment but a trick of chance. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t think of a single person, least of all myself, who doesn’t like — hell, want — sincere praise. But it’s important not to ignore the deeper meanings behind our throw-away pats-on-the-back.
Want to see how I bring my tangent on Diana Nyad back around to the (far too) strapping 24-year-old kid hitting on me (and its subsequent relevance to age perception)? Well, I’m not going to. I don’t want Diana Nyad’s story and her good effect on me, sharing the same space with an experience that began in a bar and ended with me scrolling Google feeling very icky. That anecdote will be relegated to its own post in the next day or two.
I’m not copping out, it wouldn’t be too hard to tie the two subjects together: First, call this a post about age, self-image and all the effort — actual sweat and sometimes tears — we pour into our notion of ourselves, and how that still doesn’t guarantee if others will see us the way we strive to see ourselves. Diana Nyad covers the effort part and kicking “age” in the ass, since societal attitudes toward age certainly figure into our self-perception.
Next, take a boy — who incidentally, perceives himself to be a man — in a bar, hitting on every viable option and landing by me, a generally self-assured woman who’s good at playing with both words and boys, no less under “merry” conditions. That’s “playing with” as in sharing toys in the sandbox, and not “toying with,” as in sadistic feline tormenting ill-fated mouse. Eventually we’d get to the part where he engages in that ridiculous practice men have of “flattering” a clearly older women about her age. Then I would recount to you if and how I’m affected by his “flattery,” which is in essence the opposite of flattery, since no man bothers with such silliness when in the presence of a woman whose age is a non-issue.
After that, I would start a new paragraph on my efforts to live up to my own self-image, one aspect of which includes physical appearance and the degree of youthfulness I ascribe to myself. That would bring me to the subject of keeping fit, neatly re-incorporating Diana Nyad in the context of age and fitness. I would then allude to my regular uphill hikes, both literally and as metaphor for life goals, which would also bookend with the uphill effort of blogging mentioned in the initial paragraph. I would finally direct your attention to the featured image of this post: me having reached the top of the hill, surrounded by gold, making the effort worthwhile.
(As a side note, I would conclude with what I discovered about the boy on Google. Of course the actual discovery, more creepy than ironic, would be revealed in the next post. Come back and find out.)
EDIT: I never did come back with a post about my Google discovery on this boy, so here it is: It turned out he was a famous baseball player with sexual assault charges against him involving an underage girl. So I felt relieved to have turned down his “invitation,” and then blocked him from continuing to text me.
- The merit of a great accomplishment is independent of the age of the person who achieved it. (If an accomplishment is “great” solely because someone is so young or so old, then it would still be about their personal ability rather than an age-dependent “accomplishment.”)
- You can find a way to tie any unrelated subjects together. But that doesn’t mean you should.
- Sometimes it’s hard to force yourself up hills, but when you reach the top, you never regret it.
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