The picture I’m viewing shows you and some of your family. I haven’t seen your sisters in a while and I’m shocked by their age. In my mind they’ve never changed. I look again, my sight adjusted, and ‘oh, yes, now I see her as she was, and as she is, both’. I mourn for those just meeting her, but I shouldn’t because I’m supposing that the past holds more value than today, and that’s my judgment, not anyone else’s. My life orientation has grown to encompass so much more than I could possibly know from my old, stunted, vantage point.
My son, his friends, and I, are driving to the beach. One of his friends, a young man barely out of his teens, speaks disdainfully of a woman we pass as we drive. She’s in a white convertible Volkswagen Bug, a huge pink flower sits in the built in dashboard vase.
He says with a laugh that she’s trying to be ‘younger than she is’ by having that flower in the vase and the shirt she’s wearing. I react internally, feeling myself withdraw, stung by his words that felt directed at me. I chuckle, as though in agreement – a betrayal. I wish I had been better prepared to parry, but I forfeited instead.
No, perspective-lacking boy, she’s not acting younger than she is – she’s being exactly who she is. The secret that no one has told you yet, dear boy/man, is that this is it. You are who you are. You will grow and change and choose whatever works for you, but it’s all a façade. You do your best to represent who you truly are, but can a picture do justice to the moment you took it? You’re the only one who feels what it was like to be in that moment. Maybe there was a slight breeze, and you felt free and caressed by the wind, perhaps by some otherworldly being or force, then. Maybe the sun was bearing down on you, or a chill in the air made it difficult to keep your hand steady as you snapped the picture.
Until you’ve lived a full life, you have no valid basis to judge someone beyond your years on simple matters, even though you will. What I wish I had known is that my body would change, but the essential me wouldn’t. Maybe some people do change radically as they age, and all of us continue to grow – whether we like and/or accept it, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
I have loathed the term ‘act your age’ since I was in my teens. Was there a manual that you came with that I somehow missed? No, you want me to act, or be, at your comfort level, which has nothing to do with me. I get that there are circumstances where we need consideration of others, and I think that’s what maturity is about, but otherwise, the only ‘rules’ are the ones you give yourself, or try to impose on others.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.