Challenges of aging

What is the most challenging part of aging? Health. But this aspect of aging is not what concerns me these days. Recently, I was struggling with an exercise machine. This machine requires me to input my age before I use it. The age defaults to thirty when you start the exercise machine. Then you can use up and down arrows to denote your real age. Apparently, this setting is convenient for the majority of the gym members. Unfortunately, I do not belong to the majority. In my case, I pressed the up arrow for a painfully long time before I got to my age. I was not disappointed with this minor inconvenience for I was feeling very sorry for one of my acquaintances from the gym. He is a decade older than me. When life gives you lemons, think of those unlucky ones who find it hard to make lemonade.

I see this phenomenon playing out different phases of life. In daily life, you use a variety of websites where you have to specify your date of birth. The difficult ones have separate entry fields for day, month, and year. It is the third field which presents a challenge, and it is usually a drop-down list. My year of birth is deep down the list that I take scroll as if there is no tomorrow to reach there. Now, I blame this on the designer of these interfaces. The designer could have made it easier for people like me if they had some forethought. In the worst case, the designer has fallen into a trap like one of the colleagues from the past. In those days, when my colleague found me on one of the social media platforms, he asked innocently. "You are on it? I didn't think people like you are using it." I had to tell him politely that I lived in Silicon Valley during the dot com boom. Those days would have nicely coincided with the time of his first tryst with a computer in school. No, I didn't say the last statement loudly. But I suspect the designer thinks people like me will never use their interfaces and hence he has overlooked our convenience.

I would go back to the original question raised in this post. According to me, the greatest challenge of aging is irrelevance. Do we come to a point where we are not discussed or considered, and therefore not important? At this point, I would like to narrate a friend's experience. He was attending training, and visiting dignitary commented with surprise on seeing a couple of full heads of grey. "I see grey-haired people attending this session." My friend, who sports a healthy growth of grey, was uncomfortable at first. Then he decided to stay the course as the training was necessary to complete it to remain relevant. I was moved and inspired by my friend's resilience. How many of us can stay resilient to fight irrelevance?

Photo Courtesy: Deane Rimerman