Hardened - Revisited



This was originally posted in January of 2012, but it is a natural follow up to Monday’s EasyBeauty topic. It has been edited with that in mind.

Anybody remember Jan-Michael Vincent?  He is an actor known mostly for a string of minor movie roles, but he was mainly famous for his part as Stringfellow Hawke in the 1983 television series Airwolf.  He had fallen off the radar since the series was cancelled, that is until a couple weeks ago when I was watching some run-of-the-mill TV movie and there he was again.  His reappearance took me by surprise, but it wasn’t because of how much older he looked, or how gruff he sounded, but rather how “stiff” his acting was.  Granted, he never was Sir Laurence Oliver, but back in the day he was rather expressive and communicated his emotions quite effectively.  Looking at him now in this low budget film, I couldn’t get over how he reminded me of a handicapped vocalist who could only sing one note.   Surprise, elation, fear, joy, anger…all looked the same on the man’s leathery face.  The words coming out of his mouth were the only clue to the emotional state he was attempting to portray.  It was as if he was dealing with the side-effects of having glanced at the snake-headed Medusa.  It was hard to watch.



I had seen this before with other actors, but now it got me wondering about the people in my life, friends and family both, who were getting up there in age.   For some of them the highs and lows seemed to have eroded away much like Jan-Michael Vincent, washing out all of the bright colors with it, leaving behind a bland monochrome version of their former selves.  It seems like arteries aren’t the only thing that harden when we grow old. That made me wonder.

Does our soul age?

On Monday I talked about the different between inner and outer beauty, and how Father-Time isn’t always kind to that outer beauty. Is the same thing true for our inner beauty? Does our emotional range, the peaks and valleys of who we are, wear down over time…or is it just our ability (or energy) to convey them?  Can it be there are feelings being held hostage behind those wrinkles and liver spots?  Sure, I see flashes of their old selves from time to time, but those are the exceptions and not the rule.

That makes you wonder…could this be happening to me?  I’m not a spring chicken anymore, so maybe.  How old is Jan-Michael Vincent?  He’s 67 now, so he’s got a few years on me.  But I’m sure the hardening process doesn’t take place overnight; rather it’s probably something that happens so gradually that we’re not even aware what’s happening.  Maybe there’s some kind of vitamin I could take to slow it down, like the other supplements I take for preventative purposes.  Ginkgo Biloba supposedly helps with memory retention and Acetyl-L-Carnitine improves the firing of brain nerve messengers, why not a pill that prevents emotional fossilization?   I know what my wife would say, take a trip to Disney World every year; it’ll keep you young forever!  But she would also say I have nothing to worry about because I’ve always been the stoic type, emotionally economical when it comes to being expressive.

That may be so, but what about my writing?  Me being a writer is comparable to Jan-Michael Vincent being an actor, the prose is my acting…a way to express myself in a way I feel most comfortable.  Is it destined to stiffen right along with my outer demeanor?  I’m hope not.  My optimism lets me believe that it will continue to be the portal that allows me to escape my insecurities and let everybody see the true me.

For those of you in pursuit of that “hard body”, remember that there are other muscles that need attention as Father Time descends upon us.  There are 43 of them in the face and maybe some smile-ups instead of push-ups would be time well spent! :)
 




13 comments

  1. Hi Don - gosh I remember him ... I see he's 72 - but has battled drugs and alcohol ... so I guess explains that haggard and 'pale' look ...

    Ok - I need to brush up my bod muscles ... if you smile and laugh often - your face keeps relaxed and more elastic ... helping the positive outlook to life ...

    Cheers to a more uplifting life - good luck .. and good to see the handsome devil again .. Hilary

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    1. There have been times when my face muscles have ached because I had been smiling so much. That's a good ache! :)

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  2. Of course everything ages: body, mind, soul, except that when we reach old age we are more experienced and that makes us wiser.

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    1. Unfortunately I've come across plenty of people who have aged but somehow missed out on the "wiser" part. :)

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  3. As long as you write consistently, your writing should stiffen. Just like using your muscles keep them working correctly. At least I hope so, otherwise all those trips to the fitness center are for what??? :)

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    1. That should be "shouldn't stiffen." And to think I re-read that thing several times before posting. :P

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    2. Yeah...I guess its like anything. Use it or lose it! :)

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  4. I think as you get older and experience more, you don't react to things with the same emotional intensity. It's not hardening, exactly, but when you've been there before or have seen similar things and know the outcomes, you don't feel the same way about them as you did when it was new and fresh and you were experiencing them for the first time. For example, falling in love. You never do it with quite the same abandon as the first time because you know how it feels when love ends.

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    1. Good point. Experience can sometimes dampen enthusiasm! :)

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  5. I actually see my mom reacting to things more visibly - with greater displays of emotion, and my dad, who has always been quiet, is still slow to react in a way that others can see. I can read his face easily - I can tell when he's annoyed or surprised, and sometimes I'm shocked to find out that others can't see it. My husband knows when my dad is secretly laughing at something, or irritated, but it has taken nearly two decades for him to be able to read my dad's quiet displays of emotion - the tiny widening of his eyelid, the way he hold his lips - pursed for irritation, slightly quirked for amusement.

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    1. So what we might perceive as a change in behavior, is actually a change in the way we look at those people. I can see that happening in my own world. :)

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  6. It's funny...8 years ago I was getting botox and spending a small fortune on fixing my body, now I use oils and creams and exercise and don't worry so much about the scale. I actually love when I see a photo of me and I kind of look like my Nanny or some other older relative. Had my hair done platinum to match the hair around my face...makes me look like Nanny...I loved and admired her so much. Hubby is getting grey but it just makes me think about the 70 years my grandparents had together. Yep. I want that.

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    1. I do what I need to do to stay healthy, and that's it. The times that I cared how I looked to others are long gone. :)

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