I'm fifteen. I have some thoughts about aging.

(No. 73) Dove Williams talks about teen aging, defines "old", and contemplates the future of the world. Interviewed by their uncle, Stephen P. Williams

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Let’s amplify the gray rage

I’ve been reading How to Blow Up a Pipeline, a radical book by Andreas Malm. It persuasively argues for the benefits of aggressive, violent action to disrupt the petroleum industries that continue to fuel the unconscionable beatdown we are giving our planet. Its examination of how much agency we have makes me think about the passivity of aging culture. How we tend to focus on cosmetic surgery, wellness, retirement, and escape rather than the realities of living in a society that doesn’t like seeing what happens to our bodies and minds as we get older.

I’m angry about it.

While reading How to Blow Up a Pipeline, I realized I’ve been holding back my feelings about how often aging people — all of us, from 21 to 121 — retreat quietly into senescence, without acknowledging our powerful potential to reform the world for ourselves and all the other people on the planet. If we wanted to, we olds could change the world for the better.

Instead, we accept media that depicts us as frail fools and useless tools. We are encouraged to look in the mirror and reject our honestly won decay with creams, interventions and affirmations. We get laughed at for having sex lives, and even for simply working out in public. Many of us hide because of this.

I’m tired of it.

I feel like shouting down the haters. Let’s start rolling our eyes at the cliches. Let’s reach out to younger people with friendship. Let’s move forward together, useful and beautiful and very much alive. We can leap generations and stereotypes and share ourselves to make things more wonderful for all of the younger people who will — inevitably — fill our old shoes.

Any thoughts? Wanna start a movement? Leave a comment or send a note to stephen@stephenpwilliams.com


Self-centered fear is disposable

In the video below, Dove Williams asks me what it’s like to know I only have one-third of my life left — at best. Very good question, Dove.

Confession: editing this video was, for me, a lesson in coping with self-inflicted ageism. The sight of myself on the video, at first, unleashed some real self-disregard. I had to breath deeply and let the fear and self-loathing I felt towards my neck wattle and my heaviness and my goofy hair become instead an amused acceptance of the fact that I’m 64 (and the camera was at a very bad angle!).

As I’ve said, I believe in facing the aging process head on, and accepting reality. But sometimes that’s a hard belief to fulfill. At times I’m more afraid of other people (especially ex-lovers, writers I’m jealous of, ageless school friends) seeing me as an old person than I am of seeing myself that way. Clearly, I have internalized ageism. Hey, but I got through it, today. And so can you.

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