The Charm of Getting Older
There’s a word for that in Japanese. Shibui. The charm of getting older.
In Western societies, aging is associated with declining health, appearance, and social standing. We’re held up to the same standards as someone half our age, and the stark contrast makes us look broken. When we converse with others of the same generation, a back-and-forth verifies we are being heard. As we age, we notice a change in that interaction and begin to feel tolerated. How do I find the best age calculator?
We spend thousands trying to hide the signs of aging because we consider wrinkles and other changes to our bodies to be unattractive. In Western societies, chronic depression is a more significant consequence of aging. It’s hard to get over the sensation that we don’t belong, that our lives don’t matter to the next generation, that we’re outsiders in our own families, and that our want to be accepted, loved, and respected is unfulfillable.
The charm of getting older. Our cultural norms are to blame for keeping those phrases at the level of a beautiful idea without substance. Traditional European families value autonomy and a strong sense of intergenerational support. The children and their families dwell on the upper floors, while the parents occupy the first floor.
Grandparents care for the grandchildren while the two adult children hold jobs. As a result, there is a natural flow of conversation and understanding between the three generations as they eat together and go about their daily routines. Contrast this approach with the Western way of dealing with old age. Here, younger generations sometimes feel angry toward their elderly parents.
They anticipate when they won’t have to care for their parents because they can afford to do so independently. And when maintenance is required, they shrug it off and put their aging parents in institutions where they have little hope of regaining independence. These decisions cause a great deal of strain on families, and it would be much easier if we followed the European example and valued the wisdom of our elders as much as they do there.
Perhaps due to their long history, Asian civilizations have always emphasized honoring older people. In that culture, individuals are viewed as permanent; the lessons they learn as children must be cultivated and applied throughout their lives. One must wait till old age before being wise and capable of giving sound advice.
People of all ages show respect for one another’s seniority. Difficult life experiences are valued for the lessons they can teach and the wise counsel they may offer to those younger than themselves. The Chinese have a word for this type of worldly wisdom: shih.
We’re both in our 50s, and we’re in love. We’ve discussed how different generations’ views on life have developed due to cultural shifts. For example, it’s unusual to see someone in our age group with a portable media player or a personal digital assistant like a Blackberry; we prefer one-on-one interactions over multitasking via today’s myriad communication channels.
We are acutely conscious of the shift in society’s acceptance of us over the past decade; nowadays, we are rarely given opportunities that were once taken for granted. Therefore, we must create our options rather than look for them since we are both so lively, intellectual, and energetic that we want to make essential contributions to our planet.
What we feel and experience are extremely common; nonetheless, having a conversation about aging is avoided since it is neither sexy nor popular. If we can encourage a change in how age is seen in our culture, I think we can alleviate many of our society’s most pressing concerns.
We need to start regarding older people as vast reservoirs of history whose observations might assist the future, as part of the natural continuity, and as possessing wisdom that will be lost if not captured. Getting older doesn’t have to be disheartening or gloomy; it may be a beautiful time of life that brings peace and mental security that we couldn’t experience when we were younger.
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