My nurse practicioner, who writes me a scrip for my precious, precious painkillers (yes, I am dependent; why do you ask?) every couple of months, said "happy birthday; how old are you?", which, while mildly dumb (since my age is on my chart), didn't piss me off, but then she said "almost 40! It's all downhill from here!".
Excuse me? My life is less than half over (assuming I live until I'm 80), and "it's all downhill from here"?
We are a youth-obsessed culture, of that there is no doubt. All one has to do is watch TV and movies. In fact, you don't even need to do that - go outside and see what the average person is wearing, and see how many older women you can see wearing the latest teenage fashion, whether it suits them or not. There's so much fear associated with growing older - beauty ads scream about looking younger, weight loss ads scream about looking younger, and health is all about looking younger. We all apparently want to live forever, but not if it means being all gross and wrinkly.
If you want to stay young forever, kill yourself now and pickle your remains, but please, stop assuming everyone wants to be young forever. Some of us are okay with growing older. Age brings experience, skills, and the wisdom to stop repeating the mistakes one made as a callow youth. My writing is better (less emo-centric), my painting is better, my freaking embroidery and costuming skills are better (as my hall of shame doth immortalize). I plan to be doing all of these things for years to come, and getting better and better at it. Downhill? Only if I'm out for a day of skiing in Colorado, my friend.
Even physically, there is no reason why 40 is some terrible number where everything starts breaking down - heck, I blew out one knee in my twenties, and I've had arm problems since my early thirties. But I'm thinner than I was at nineteen, and I think I'm more attractive now, since I am happier than I've ever been. I wouldn't be twenty again for anything.
(Well, if I was given vast riches and Bob, I'd consider it. But it would be a tough choice.)
Getting older is wonderful. Life's experiences have made me rich. I have everything I've ever really wanted out of the SCA (except maybe being Queen, but that's not under my control), I have an amazing, irreplaceable husband, fantastic friends, respect, admiration, even a following on line. I'd be unspeakably selfish to dismiss all of this as being "all downhill from here".
It seems silly to me to fear getting older; my lack of fertility isn't an issue in this day and age (especially since women can now have kids almost as ridiculously late as men, and there's no reason to assume science won't be able to get 70 year olds pregnant in 20 years, just like they can get 60 year olds to spawn now), so the main issue of my "usefulness" is now moot. I don't have to fade into the background in shame at my lack of sexual relevance, I can go on creating things until the day I die.
...And I plan to - though my LJ might have a few more "I forgot what I was going to write about, so here's a kitteh macro" posts.
Life is not a bell curve; there is no peak that we do not create ourselves. Some people peak early, some late, and some steadily climb throughout. Our biology is the last thing that should govern our success.
Besides, I've been told throughout my life that "after *insert age*, it's all downhill". When I did Jenny Craig, I was told that after 25, it's suddenly harder to lose weight. I've been told that after 30, I'm no longer cute. After 35, I can't have kids without them being horribly brain-damaged. It's all bullshit scare tactics to manipulate people. Death is the only real roadblock, and even that might not be the end.
I left the doctor's office in a bad mood - pain and stupidity will do that to me - so I turned on the radio. On comes an ad for BG&E's fuel program, which ensures that needy people have heat and light throughout the winter months. They suggested you put a small donation in with your power bill. Then the gentle female voice said "It's not a handout, and it's not charity; it's empowerment". I swear, that's the inflection she used.
I bet someone at BG&E is laughing themselves sick over that one.