A Word on Mental Health

The Wrinkle Room

By Michael Kimmel

Earlier this year I wrote a column called “Twink Death”. It got more hits than anything I’ve ever written (over 1,100 at present) and people – friends, clients, total strangers at parties – have approached me ever since, asking me: “Please write more about this”.

Okay folks, here you are! 

As a young queer man, I remember making fun of bars that older gay guys went to: my friends and I called them “Wrinkle Rooms”, not thinking ahead and realizing that, if we lived long enough, we’d end up there ourselves. 

Youth can be great. For many of us, this is our physical prime. But, for most of us, it is not our psychological prime. Youth is a challenging time mentally: we are struggling to figure out who and what we are, our sense of ourselves is usually pretty shaky and our self-esteem is based on who likes us and how much. This is hardly a strong basis for feeling good about ourselves. While we look great on the outside; inside, we’re a mess.

This is why – on Saturday, November 4th – I am offering a workshop based on my upcoming book: “A Man’s Guide to Aging Well”. The workshop is limited to a maximum of 25 men of all ages. From giving workshops for over 30 years now, I know that there’s great value in bringing together men of all ages – every one of us can both learn from and teach men younger and older than we are. 

Why does “The Wrinkle Room” scare us so? Why are we so afraid of getting older? If all of our confidence lies in how we look, we’re in for a future with a lot of suffering. No matter how hard you work to look young, it’s futile: you’re gonna age anyway. I wholly recommend that you stay healthy, strong and flexible. But that’s about your body’s interior condition (happy muscles, organs, skin and systemic functioning), not how it looks. People can look fabulous on the outside and literally be dying inside.

Advertising plays on our worst fears: Don’t get old! Don’t look old! Don’t act old! If you do, no one will want you. Buy our products so you can stay lovable and desirable. If that were true, the richest people would be the happiest (and we know that’s not true).

So, dear readers, where does that leave us? A good place to start is to question our beliefs about aging. I recommend asking yourself questions like: 

  • What about getting older is a challenge? A pleasure? A surprise?
  • Regardless of your age, how are you feeling today about your life? What urgency knocks at your door? Which strengths do you draw on? What fears plague you?
  • If you’re in the first third of life (under age 30), what do you love about being young? Do you have any fears of aging? What’s your plan for your life? What about being young will you be you happy to let go of?
  • If you’re in your second third of life (ages 30 to 60), in what ways are you maturing as you’d hoped? What plans have you made for your life that have been fulfilled? What detours have you taken from your original plans? What emotions and insights arise as you reflect on your life so far?
  • If you’re in your third of life (age 60 and over), are you happy with what you’ve created? If not, what can you do about it? What’s surprised you as you’ve become an elder? Have you retired? If so, are you enjoying or suffering through it?

If you’d like to explore these questions with me and a safe, supportive group of men, I invite you to join us for “A Man’s Guide to Aging Well”, a workshop I’m offering on November 4th from 1:30 to 3:30PM in Hillcrest (right after Saturday brunch). The fee for the workshop is $45: scholarships are available. The workshop will be held at The Studio Door, located at 3867 Fourth Avenue.

For more information and/or to register for the workshop, click here: 

You can look forward to growing older. Start by questioning your assumptions about aging. You can do it differently. Start now!