Rick Moody sends along a link to this excellent Buddhist discussion of aging.
When one sees an old man, one contemplates aging of the body, which no one can resist at all, regardless of how well he has been nourished, or how excellent his living conditions have been. Aging is not under the control of anything. It comes naturally and disregards anyone’s fortune or power. As the body deteriorates, it reveals its suffering and impermanent nature. The eyes that used to see things clearly, both near and far, are now blurred. A person who used to be strong must now be assisted to the toilet. This is the kind of suffering that an old man must experience due to the impermanence of his body. The same old man was once a child just like any child that we see. The child grew up and is now changed to an old man. Aging occurs in all parts of the body, and the strength gradually declines until the old man is completely helpless.
The ears, that used to hear things clearly, become hard of hearing or even completely deaf in old age. This is a state of impermanence that no one wants, but it comes someday and causes suffering. The same change occurs to the nose, the tongue and the tactile sense. So, when we see an old man, we should contemplate aging and imagine that we were that man. We too are aging just like him. We grew out of childhood, but today and tomorrow we are aging and eventually we will become old just like the man we sec today. This is because we are all governed by the rule of the
Three Characteristics (tilakkhana). No matter how well we take care of ourselves or how comfortably we live our lives, aging is something that is beyond our control. Even though we try to put on cosmetics or nourish our skin with all kinds of lotion to look younger, our bodies will not cooperate with our desire. For how much longer can one fool oneself and not admit the true nature of the body? Then why does one go on believing that the body is his and is self? People misunderstand that the body is self, whilst in fact it exists only temporarily. Soon all of us have to leave our bodies. We cannot hang on to them forever.