The mirror after 50

The mirror after 50

Aging means investing more time in addressing health issues, something that men before did not do and are now beginning to do.


“When a man looks in the mirror and recognizes his father in that image, it is because he is aging.”, reflects the character of Florentino Aguiza in the novel Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez. As he contemplates himself on any given morning, Florentino understands that death has begun to haunt him in a spectral way, wrinkling his face, slowing his steps, and crushing him with illnesses and sorrows.

As we age, we recognize that the passage of time materializes in our body in a way that is as subtle as it is unforgiving. The advertising that ironizes the little one who calls you “sir” or “ma’am”, the first gray hairs, the eyesight that begins to fail, the breathing that does not always accompany climbing stairs… A series of signs makes us become aware – and this is an exclusive quality of the human species – of our gradual deterioration. The other day a friend summed it up with a funny protest: “I do more and more sit-ups, they cost me more and they are less noticeable.”

We encounter cultural and social constructions related to the passage of time, such as the value we associate with maturity, experience and reflective capacity. But also with that which my father, now in his 85 years and with bitter irony, called “deal with old age”which is nothing other than the inevitable coexistence with the symptoms of that age. Because Getting older means investing more time in addressing health issues, something that men before did not do and are now beginning to do.

And what about before old age? In this “palliative society” completely anesthetized and denying deathas defined by the South Korean philosopher Byun Chul Han, a predatory and voracious demand is imposed that encourages us to produce compulsively and also to produce ourselves. They stun us with products and aesthetic offers that promise to enlarge muscles, delay the loss of sexual vitality or look ten years younger in exchange for capsules, periodic injections and surgical touch-ups. They claim the spectacularization of our existence.

The image we retain of mom or dad from when we were little is that of adults who were around forty or fifty years old. The same age as Florentino, García Márquez’s character, and also the passage of life that many of us are going through. How do we deal with this path to old age? In the case of men, so accustomed to overstating physical strength, perhaps what weighs us most is the deterioration of physical health, because we directly associate it with male fragility. As if the identity of a tough, do-it-all man was threatened by the disease.

But the truth is that in front of the mirror and in silence, something real appears and causes us that unbearability. What if we allow ourselves to deconstruct hegemonic aesthetic conditioning and face the anguish of our finitude? If we do not stop to reflect on them: we will critically succumb to the burden of seeking acceptance at any price by becoming friends with the always cold image that the mirror returns to us.

Psychologist and educator from Rosario.

Source: Ambito

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