I’ve been trying to think of a word that combines aging with grace, and came up with the post title – graging. Now that I see it, it could also be a combination of “rage” and “gray”, which are also part of aging, although not exactly what I had in mind. It’s a weird word, a fake word, clumsy and ugly. Maybe it’s the perfect word to describe how most of us increase our years, and all those moments when we say to ourselves “Is this what it feels like to be X yrs old? I don’t feel X yrs old.”
Isn’t is amusing how the only people talking about the process of aging are those of us who are “of a certain age?” When we’re in our twenties and thirties, we are most definitely NOT thinking about our upcoming years of graging, except in terms of retirement funds. I know this is true because I’m close enough to my thirties that I can remember NEVER thinking about what my forties would be like!
I think it’s a psychological development. We hit some level in our biological development and bam! we’re suddenly pondering the nature of life, our contributions and legacy, our vulnerability, and what the end of our lives might be like. It’s a curious paradox that our society and culture disregard our elders, fetishize youth, and yet every. single. one of us will grow old and die. It’s one of the very few absolute givens in human existence – we, you, I, will grow older and eventually die.
I’m writing this piece more as a way to inject some humor in this process for myself, because I can’t even describe how vulnerable and alone and afraid I feel sometimes. I can’t because thinking about it too much crushes my spirit and darkens my light, and I need a way to acknowledge my fears without letting them own me. So maybe the word “graging” will now symbolize those parts of growing older I find both familiar and uncomfortable – the fear and anger, loneliness and uncontrollable changes – things we all struggle with most of our lives.
Naming a thing makes it less scary, in part because it makes it more real. Perhaps the real key to growing in grace is realizing and accepting that all of these parts are inevitable and unavoidable, and that the best I can do is be kind to myself when they show up. Kindness and grace don’t combine easily into a fun word, probably because they’re both so deserving of separate attention. There are no shortcuts to either of these states – they take courage, work, heart, and intention.
I feel better now. Graging over.