Typically, men and women in our “Western culture” have equal disdain for signs of aging (e.g. our own mortality). In our society, youth and vitality are paramount! Billion’s of dollars are allocated for said marketing every year. “Look 20 years younger!” “Feel younger!” “Clinically proven anti-aging!” You get the point.
One universal and often dreaded sign of aging is gray hair. Dermatologists call it the “50-50-50 rule” in which 50% of the population has 50% gray hair by the age of 50. There are multiple factors that contribute to gray hair. Scientists still can’t pinpoint the exact reason or causal factors. We just know that culturally, Gray = “OLD” and “OLD” = less relevant”. As I have aged (42 and counting), I have noticed more of these colorless follicles popping up every day. These silver “soldiers” seem to have a particular mission and mind of their own. The wiry outliers can be vexing, uncontrollable, and notably defiant! It is almost as if they thumb their collective nose at me and say “HEY! Check me out! I’m here all day… errrr day!!!” People deal with this stark reality in different ways. The majority of men and women tend to “dye and deny”. If they don’t see them they don’t exist.
Recently, I was attempting to style my hair for a night out on the town. All my dark hair laid just the way I combed it. I actually felt pretty dapper! After closer inspection, one of those gray “guys” was rearing its ugly head! Regardless of what product I used to tame it, I still had a little obstinate “feeler” poking out! Without a second thought, I plucked the offending hair with tweezers. Boom! Problem solved…for now. Reality is, there is one “on deck”, right behind it.
The aforementioned and otherwise mundane experience had me thinking. “Why are we so afraid of aging?” Why do we fear indications of our own mortality? George Bernard Shaw has a famous quote…“Youth is wasted on the young.” As a “masters level” athlete I often ponder George’s sentiment. It is human nature to focus on age-limiting factors. We center on what we can’t do or what we have to do in preparation for baseline movement patterns. Typically, with age comes wisdom IF we are open to it.
With all of that said, a majority of the athletes at Cadre are in the same boat. We are more mature (in years any way) than most of the younger folks. We require more time to warm up, added stretching/mobility work and…did I happen to mention more time to warm up? Many of us don’t fit the mold of an elite athlete but we’re willing to work at it and get better every day. We may not be the first athletes done but we WILL finish! We are established in our careers, families and know what direction our lives are taking. We utilize life experiences as a compass to guide our every day decisions (scaling, days of recovery, family time, etc.)
If you ask me, all of these life experiences put us in a great position! What if we collectively “flipped the script” and looked at our chronological stage in life as an advantage? What if we likened ourselves to the “upper classmen” of life? What if we embraced that “gray area” and wore it as a badge of honor? What if we were defiant, stood out and thumbed OUR nose at the social norms? We’d be putting a new perspective on an age-old (pun intended) paradigm.
Do YOU the best way you know how and be proud of it! Don’t waste your time dwelling on the things you can’t do or should have done. Showcase the things you CAN and HAVE polished! After all, you’ve accomplished some pretty noteworthy things in life! So I challenge all of you “masters athletes” out there to embrace YOUR life experiences, use them to your advantage and most of all… BE that defiant “gray hair”!!!