Thursday, July 23, 2009

Endless Negotiation


I read this Nora Ephron quote today: Age is an endless negotiation, and everybody deals with things their own way. The things you might have made judgments about when you were younger (and had no idea what aging was going to be like) just seem foolish to me.

I Googled Nora’s age, and learned that she’s 68. Wow, she’s thirteen years older than I am. I found this photo on the Internet and I think she looks good for 68, don’t you? I was in the midst of a hot flash earlier today and I thought to myself, Good Lord I had no idea. How could I? During my girlhood I’d heard some of my mother’s friends complain about hot flashes (oddly enough, my own mother didn’t have them) and whenever I heard them lamenting about menopausal symptoms I thought, well how bad can it be? Ha!

Another aspect about aging that I could have never understood? How beauty fades, and this vanishing beauty thing happens ever so slowly. One day you look in the mirror and you think, where’s that girl I used to be? She’s gone. Poof! You’d like to reach back through the years, grab her by those boney shoulders, give her a good shake and have a little talk with her. You’d like to explain a few things, maybe save her from heartache, and the bigger mistakes. Life would be different now (for you, the woman) if you could cheat and give that girl a warning or two.

You really do represent the sum total of what you’ve learned. Maybe that’s why older women seem to enjoy doling out sage advice. “Hey, I’ve learned a thing or two Missy,” they like to say, “you ought to listen to me.” But headstrong girls hardly ever heed their elder’s council. And so it goes, the same mistakes get made, over and over and over again.

I picture angels watching all this, and saying, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Oh my, look at her go. Another unwanted pregnancy.” “Uh oh, and I thought that girl had a head on her shoulders. But that brute beat her to a pulp and she didn’t leave him.” “If only she’d gone and had that mammogram the doctor ordered, if only.” Frustrated angels, witnessing all those mistakes.

I used to say that I’d never consider having a facelift. Then, an aunt of mine came to visit and I was going on and on about how happy I was to share in her gene pool, that I hoped I looked as good as she did by the time I reached her age. Then she made me promise not to tell anyone, and confessed that she had a facelift. And the surgery left her in so much pain and she had to endure several weeks of slow recovery (that even though the procedure did the trick and took a good ten years off her appearance) she wouldn’t have gone through with it if she had known how painful it would have been. Maybe—maybe not. Because, we tend to ignore what we don't want to hear. My daughter had a baby 3 months ago. And she can’t believe how difficult motherhood is. Telling her didn’t convince her, she had to live it.

I’m afraid we’re doomed to learn as we go along.

How will I feel at 68? How will I handle the endless negotiation with aging that Norah mentioned? I think it's about time I focus those snippets of wisdom I come across now and then. Preparing myself for what I hope will be a long (less bumpy) road ahead.


All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

17 comments:

GutsyWriter said...

Great post, and I can relate. I'm 51, and one thing that has been fabulous for me in every respect is weight lifting. I love the gym, and go 6 times/week. My face is looking older, but my body is athletic, and I love feeling energetic and stronger than many women half my age. I have no clue at what age I shall look in the mirror and say, "Wow, I've really aged recently." I do think being kind to ourselves and eating well and exercising, does help tremendously, however, when others treat us as old, then we'll know. Yes, Nora does look great at 68.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Weight lifting is so important, it builds our bones. Women don't know that. But instead of taking drugs, get your butt into the gym, or buy some weights.

Joanne said...

So much in life is a negotiation. I walk a couple miles, nearly every day. It's exercise, meditation, helps my mind, my body and my writing. The effort is well worth it. And yes, Nora looks amazing!

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

I think it is true- we can't know most things until we are there. We won't know an age until we get there. I don't know but I'm not minding aging. When I turned 40 (I'm now 45) I changed a lot of things in my life and I've never felt better and closer to who I'm meant to be. I'm looking forward to 50 and 60 and how ever longer I might be given.

But Elizabeth, I would take your aunt's advice. Why court pain? I don't mind looking 45 at 45- I earned my stripes.

Cheryl said...

Endless negotiation is right! Growing older is one long life lesson.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Laurie, I see where I could have made it sound as if I would consider having a facelift. I don't have many wrinkles yet, (I'll probably wake up in a week or two with a bunch, just because that's the way it works), and after my aunt told me how awful she felt, (for her the recovery was a nightmare), I really wasn't interested. From the minute we arrive on the scene we begin to age, that's just part of life. American society worships youth. I don't.

You have such a great attitude!

lakeviewer said...

Ah,wishing for beauty that is ageless. We could pay better attention to our body's needs.

K. said...

God, how true! There are so many things that I didn't take my parents' warnings about...I just had to find out myself...I guess that's what wisdom's about. And it's true that the older you are the wiser you are, regardless of your education, intelligence, and such. You are wiser for having lived!
Great post!

K. said...

oh, and I love Nora Ephron...I saw her on Oprah once and she is one smart and VERY funny lady!
She does look fantastic, too...

Elizabeth Bradley said...

What a life Ms. Ephron has lived! Her parents were screenwriters and they wrote the script for, "Take Her She's Mine." Sandra Dee played the part that they based on their daughter Nora. And she was married to Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. Heartburn, the book and subsequent movie was based on his affair and their eventual break-up. She's a gifted writer and director, quite funny, and is still going strong. The latest Nora Ephron movie is "Julia and Julia", with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams playing the two Julias. I will surely go see it, as I loved the book. The book made me hungry, I better eat before I go see the film. ;-)

Anne Spollen said...

I think I worry way more about my mind than my body with aging. If I forget to bring my keys out to the car (but remember the kids, the paperwork, the shopping list and the recyclable bags)I never think anymore: "Oh, I'm really busy today." I think, "Oh, this could be the onset of early dementia."

PopArtDiva said...

Nora Ephron is the best and, yes, she looks great for her age but then money helps with the aging process - it's easier to look good when you can afford the best creams, don't have the stress and have access to the best plastic surgeons, lol!

Ah, hot flashes - don't get me started! At 58 I've had them now for eighteen years and could do without them. I was never willing to go the hormone route as there was a great deal of cancer in my family.

Yes, no matter what the elders of the tribe say the young must make their own mistakes - I guess that's what makes us human...

Marguerite said...

Nora looks great for any age, but especially for 68! She sounds so interesting and I will put this book on my list. Thanks! Happy Weekend!!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I forgot to give the name of the author of the book, "Julia and Julia", her name is Julia Powell. It's a good read.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm such a boob, it's Julie and Julia, and the writer's name is Julie Powell.

Nancy said...

Great post. I am in hot-flash hell. And I agree, it's hard to watch beauty fade day by day, but not enough to go under the knife, at least not for me. May daughter, just this week, blogged about how fast her baby has grown over the last 20 months, despite being told over and over. We have to experience to understand, for sure.

As for Nora Ephron, she looks great, but I was very disappointed in her book "I Hate My Neck." I expected more than a few sentences per page for my book dollars.

Kim said...

This is a really good post. I can relate to your daughter. My sister had all of her kids before I had my one and she used to go on and on and sometimes I would think - boy she really likes to complain a lot but now I know that although I love motherhood, it certainly isn't easy. I've found that it got easier and more enjoyable after about the fifth month.