Age/ing

Welcome the later years. They are the last of life for which the first was made.

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As Walter Houston put it, "Age--- it's only a number, Baby."

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Actress Billie Burke, "Age doesn't matter unless you are a cheese."

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Writer Dorothy Sayers, in her later years wrote:

"As I grow older and older

"And totter toward the tomb

"I find that I care less and less

"Who goes to bed with whom."

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The best thing about about being a senior citizen is that I am free-er to say what I want; that I do not have to "make a statement" in choosing my clothing, friends, hair style, etc. .. It is easier to say "NO", harder to say "YES," "MAYBE" is used more frequently, and the word "FOREVER" is nonexistent in my vocabulary.

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BETTY FRIEDAN, ON WHY OLDER IS BETTER THAN YOUNGER (excerpted from the L A Weekly-- about 1992)

"There's an aging mystique in this country that is just as serious, and even more pernicious, than the feminine mystique," says Betty Friedan. "It denies reality , and distorts it. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps us from confronting the real possibilities and problems of the new third of life that is now open to people."

Twenty-three years ago, in The Feminine Mystique, Friedan advanced the notion that women whose lives revolve around their families are often unfulfilled and frustrated. Her book became an instant best seller and an inspiration for the women's movement in the United States.

Now, as the first rank of feminists hit their 50s and 60s, and the baby boomers knock at the 40's door Friedan is investigating the aging mystique. Friedan has found that the major problems of aging are not gender-related. "I started with the whole question about the difference in evolution between women and men -- and its effect on aging. I found what I call the 'mystique of age.' It defines age only in terms of pathology, deterioration, decline, and stagnation. That exaggerated image denies the diverse reality, or from even having words and concepts for what might emerge with age."

Instead of a period of deterioration, Friedan thinks that old age can be a time of recognizing strengths. "Anyone who frees himself or herself from the denial and the dread that's caused by this obsolete age mystique is then free from trying to hold on to youth or deny age. Surprising things emerge," she says, "strengths that as yet have no name."

Friedan, now in her 60s is discovering new options. I find that life is getting more adventurous, more interesting, as I become freer to really be myself, to risk in ways I never dared before. After long years of asking and looking for answers, observing and participating, you do acquire a certain wisdom and strength. Life can open up in surprising ways, especially if you let yourself keep meeting new challenges."

One of the pleasures of old age, she has discovered, is letting go of youthful ambitions, easing back from the rat race. "The things that used to preoccupy you -- power and status -- are not so important. So you can take risks and enjoy things for what they are."

Older people also find that they no longer suffer from the self-consciousness of youth. "What the difference if you make a mistake?" Friedan demands. "You know it won't kill you. You know that you can laugh it off -- and so will other people."