Although I've yet to achieve a full head of silver, I am beginning to realize that my notions on aging have begun to change. This seems to be happening in conjunction with the graying behind my temples and the gradually more frequent discovery of rogue, white strands hiding in my beard.
Somehow, it has become a part of my perception of aging that going gray is something to dread. That perspective may be rooted in childhood memories of my parents faces and the locks of family friends, having watched these people I literally looked up to begin to dimly glow from their heads even after dusk. Now, I'd say if one's mop transforms itself into a shimmer-in-the-dark type of bird's nest, then so it goes. That's how you'll know you've lived through struggle or simply walked through a less-than carefree life.
Unfortunately, I've lost most of my hair already, and the little I have left is starting to tell the tale of my past without any utterance on my part. Soon the salt will begin to win its battle with the pepper and that will be it! Maybe I don't fear this transition because of my early fondness for the comedy of Steve Martin or my juvenile attraction to a friend's buxom mother who began consistently frosting her hair at the first notice of a gray.
At its heart, I think the general "dismay at gray" for most comes not from the change in our superficial identity but the indication that the rest of the physiology stands on the edge of some wicked kind of tumble, an unstoppable, end-over-end plunge into a geriatric abyss with no hope of escape except by means of death.
It might be best to look to those who we regard to have aged gracefully - Paul Newman, for me, is one. He and Helen Mirren would make a lovely elderly couple, playing shuffleboard in slow motion, feathery, flickering locks waving in the breeze. For now, I'll choose to relish the debut of each new player in the drama between darkness and light that unfolds, daily and irreversibly, on my head.