If your hands look wrinkled and aged, you need to do something to fix them, right? Time to slather on the creams, ointments, and serums. Right?
Your aging hands hold your many experiences. They tell the story of your life — your ups and downs, highs and lows. They show all that you’ve accomplished, as well as the many mistakes and disappointments that taught you about life along the way.
When I first began to notice that my hands showed signs of aging, I felt embarrassed, humiliated. Although never one to bother hiding them in gloves and pockets, I felt that the lines, loose skin, and bulging veins were certainly nothing to be proud of. I wore little jewelry on my fingers, preferring to call as little attention to my hands as possible.
Over time I began to see my aging hands in a different light and even learned to appreciate them. Now when I look at them, I’m fondly reminded of my mother teaching me how to sew as a young girl and pricking myself with a needle a time or two. Or of burning my fingers as a novice jewelry crafter when I brushed against a hot, poorly placed torch. I’m reminded of the days and nights I spent banging away on the keyboard as I wrote my novels and of signing two to three hundred books nonstop during signings as I toured around the country for my work.
Would I want to make all of those memories disappear from my hands so they could look like this?
Personally, no. To me, youthful hands are pretty but also pretty boring. They lack character and drama. They tell no story. I don’t want to “fix” my hands to look more like those of a twenty-year-old. No, thanks. My hands hold the precious memories of a life well-lived, and I want to flaunt them.
In many cultures around the world, aging is celebrated instead of being something to fear, dread and loathe as it often is here in the United States. In countries such as China, India, Greece, and Korea, seniors are highly valued for their experience and wisdom, which they are expected to pass along to the young. This is also the case in the Native American culture.
Recent research shows that there are more benefits to aging than simply gaining wisdom and experience. According to several studies, older people are generally happier than the young because they feel less stressed, more content and more fulfilled. (See The Real Deal About Aging and Happiness.)
This rings true. In our younger years, we’re constantly striving, reaching and pursing — always wanting to do and be more. For many of us, after about age fifty, our feelings begin to shift. We start to value what we have instead of always wanting the next big thing.
You can find all sorts of remedies and techniques to fix your hands: wrinkle creams, fillers, freezing, lasers, chemical peeling, hand lifts (yes, it’s a thing), and on and on. By all means, take the time to protect your hands against sun damage and dryness. It’s a healthy and wise thing to do, especially these days when we’re all using lots of hand sanitizers and soap, which are extremely drying, to guard against illness. But do you really want to make your hands a big project and turn them into a boring, blank slate?
Instead of trying to drastically alter your aging hands, why not learn to see, love and appreciate every nook, crook, and cranny? View them with the pride they deserve as a repository of the memories, triumphs, and challenges that have woven the fabric of your life and made you who you are today: a grown-up who has acquired valuable wisdom and experience to pass on to the next generations.