Picture This

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.

Author: Hermionejh

Laughter is my drug.

6 thoughts on “Picture This”

  1. Teenagers can be so clueless sometimes and so desperate to show everyone how cool they are! It’s almost painful to watch them — cringe-worthy! There’s something beautiful about life at any age; sometimes you just have to be aware enough to see it. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Emma! Yeah, I do remember feeling that way, and I hope I wasn’t as much of a jerk, but I probably was… It takes the perspective of experience, and maturity (one hopes) to be anywhere other than where we are. Would I trade what I have now to be in my teens or twenties again? I struggle with that sometimes, but even though it means acceptance of the whole journey, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve got now for the hubris of youth – unless I could retain the perspective I now have! Cheers! Jerri

  2. “You want me to act at your comfort level.” How true. This is the way it is. I love the way you put this because I never thought about it like that. We do have to be who we are and those who judge us for not being who they think we should be, should have a chance to walk in our shoes.

    1. Yes, absolutely, Brenda! I was really feeling unsettled after that whole episode, and then seeing current pictures of friends from long ago. Part of me wants to rail against life about that – as though it’s ‘management’s’ fault 😉

      I’m starting to accept myself in a new way, but am also fiercer about justice around our whole lives being the thing and not just a portion of them. Cheers! 🙂 Jerri

  3. It’s true that the real ‘you’ doesn’t change even though we age on the outside. I made a remark to my husband the other day…when we listening to music of our era…and said ‘do you feel still young inside sometimes, like we were back when we first heard this music?” and he agreed that yes he did…even though I’m 67 and he’s 70…Diane

    1. Yes, I do think it’s one of those ‘universal truths’. We do not seem to be our bodies, but merely inhabit them for the duration! Cheers! Jerri 🙂

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