I forgot about the passage of time. I knew it was happening, but I didn’t believe it was real. My body sure knows it’s real.
I didn’t believe I would one day look in the mirror and see my mother as she was at my age – when I thought she was old – but now I know she really wasn’t, at least not in the way I thought of age thirty years ago. It’s all perspective.
It’s also the package deal I accepted by being born. You live, you grow, you age, and then you die.
When I was 12 I saw some illustrations in a book about the human life cycle. One showed a male and the other showed a female going from babyhood to old age. I was so angry and disgusted when I saw aging illustrated, and I vowed it would not happen to me – as though it only happened because some idiot made a drawing of it.
I did not want to become old and wrinkled. I did not want my life to be taken from me. I thought I had beat aging because I remained relatively young-looking for a long time.
I’m certainly not what I assumed about that drawing – that life was over because you’ve aged – but I internalized that. I think I thought that people age because of their attitude. Some people at the commune/cult I lived in actually said that, and I internalized that as well. “You only age because you think you’re going to,” said that 20-something-year-old to the general agreement of the throng of people sitting around.
And I thought we were special. I thought we were “chosen” as I so often heard. I really believed it though. Part of me still believes it despite knowing better.
I failed, I think to myself. I let the world get to me – or I wouldn’t have aged.
I see people give up all the time – otherwise known as acceptance.
I want to fight it. I see people fighting it to the very end. Isn’t that what all the plastic surgery and body modification is about? Isn’t it a wish for immortality?
I have deeper lines and sagging neck skin now. It pisses me off every time I see it. My failure staring back at me.
My mother stopped looking in the mirror and now I know why.
Without the mirror I can feel like I am still young, and believe I look to others as I wish to appear. But then I see that I am somehow cordoned-off from those not-so-young-themselves-anymore, but younger than me, and I am shunted into the next category. It’s just an observation, but sure, it’s sad. It’s probably self-pitying.
The saying: “We’re here for a good time, not a long time,” should pacify me. I repeat many of those type of sayings to myself. “Life is what you make it – always has been – always will be,” – and the woman who said that was about 80 at the time. Grandma Moses – Anna Mary Robertson Moses. It’s just whistling in the dark though. A platitude. A pacifier.
Life happens with or without consent, approval or control. I do my best to be steadfast and positive, but you can only eat so many shit sandwiches before starting to call them what they are.
I am trying to accept my aging in a culture that tells me in a million subtle (and not so subtle) ways that to age is to fail.
I’m a little late to the show but I’m trying to embrace my aging and not just pretend to accept it. How do I do that?
I defy the 12 year-old girl looking at that book making a lifetime judgement through an illustration. She has no right to determine how my life has unfolded, or what my aging means. Fuck her. She’s fucking 12 for god’s sake! I defy the 20-something-year-old know-nothings, no wiser than that 12 year-old, and whose lives unfolded as all life on earth unfolds. They aged, and they died, or they will die. They have health struggles, and memory problems, right along with any wisdom accrued. I defy all the plastic surgery (which I would get in a damn heartbeat if I could afford it), but it’s still an inability to accept aging. It’s also a form of defiance too, though, but it often just looks circus-freakish (no offense to non-conforming circus persons).
So what is wisdom and perspective for? Is it just to talk to myself because the young have no interest in what the old have to say? I don’t know. My son has no use for any wisdom I possess, but maybe my wisdom is just anxiety? I want his life to defy life itself!
Maybe all of our lives do just that in the implausibility of us being here at all.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current