Growing Old

When, halting in front of it, I look at the reflection which is in the depths of my clear mirror. It gives me the impression of meeting an unknown old gentle man. — Hitomaro

The biggest problem with growing older in my physical body is that in my mind I am still in my forties. The image I have of myself is much younger than the image I see in the mirror each  morning. Is my mind in denial? It is after all the organ which monitors and keeps track of my aging. It remembers my birthdays, and what number to say when asked my age.

I hardly recognize that person in the reflection anymore. Is that really how I look to other people? Unfortunately the mirror can only reflect the physical me and not the spirit of my heart and mind. The same holds true for photographs. I am always surprised when I see photographs of myself. Is that how I look to the camera? It makes me not want to see pictures of myself anymore. The pictures appear in stark contrast to the image I have of myself in my mind’s eye.

I have accepted that fact that I am growing older. The wrinkles are deeper and there are more of them. The whites of my eyes are more yellow now as are my teeth. My body is still slender but has lost most of its muscle mass. I get tired sooner than I once did and have lost most of my sexuality or I have lost most of my interest in sex. I am not sure which, and perhaps both are true. I no longer sleep as soundly as I did in my youth. I do not remember the last time I slept for eight hours straight. Everything I read says I need more sleep, but I am getting less. My afternoon naps provide a more restful sleep than my nightly ventures into dreamland.

I have no fear of death but I do have a fear of growing old. I do not want to be dependent upon anyone else to take care of me. I have taken care of myself for most of my life. I hope to grow old gracefully alone as there is no guarantee of a partner, although the posibility remains, to see me to my closing chapter. In the end, it is all on me. That is just the way it is, and I do not have a problem with that except for this: I do not want to lose my independence. My personal freedom is my life. Without this freedom and independence, I would rather be dead. This undoubtedly will happen sooner or later at some point no matter how old or young the image is of myself I feel in my mind or I see in the mirror.