“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”
She doesn’t see herself as pretty
like all the other girls
she thinks she’s plain and just a bit
pudgy around the edges
with too many curves
but her hair is long and thick
she likes to run her fingers through it
gray strands named for the pain
she’s overcome with courage
and sometimes, pure grit
she hasn’t painted her nails in such a long time
wishing to see their natural color
feel their texture and run her fingers against
its edges, always something new to discover
about herself, the one she’s long forgotten
hidden beneath over-sized shirts and jeans
and feeling quite common
like all the rest of her, she knows she’s just a plain jane
there’ll be no Botox, no nips nor tucks,
she’s left behind all the shame
for she knows she’s beautiful even in her plainness
each imperfection carved just right
she knows with them, there’s no one like her
her own goddess, it is her right,
beautiful in her own eyes
even when there’s no one else to see
through the old soul she knows so well
for she’s become the woman
she’s always wanted to be
For this week’s writing challenge, we’re asking you to explore what age means to you. Is the the loss of youth, or the cultivation of wisdom? Do things get better as you grow older, or worse? There are many ways to interpret age, often depending on your relationship with the passing of time.
Age is a double-edged sword. Just this week, my client told me about Noah, and how he lived to be 900 years old. She said that he also preached to the people for 150 years about how a flood was coming, even though they all laughed at him and thought him crazy. I tolerate such talk in my sessions sometimes, because I know that in an hour or two, I’d forget about it.
Then tonight, I learned that someone I knew from high school, and who I probably rubbed elbows with during the last ‘reunion’ party I attended two years ago, passed away suddenly last month. They held her memorial in a city just an hour away from me, but since I’ve been away from FB and haven’t really been in touch with high school friends, I never knew about it. And while I may not have been close to her at all, the knowledge of her loss jarred me with its raw power.
It was like a poison, seeping through my bones, seeking permanent residence after waiting for a way in for so long. And that’s when the reality hit me – even though my father died last year and I should have been thinking such thoughts then, but didn’t.
We’re all going to die. The only question is when.
I may not live to be 900 years old like Noah, and regardless of my general optimism about such things, neither would I probably live as long as I’d really want to – which would be till my 4-year old is grown up and I know that he will be alright. Once upon a time, I thought I was invincible, and that I had nothing to lose, and that I could do anything I wanted. But things changed the moment my son was diagnosed with autism, even if it was downgraded to a mild case, or at best “autistic-like”.
Suddenly that idea that we all know about – that we are mortal – became more real than anything else in the world. Suddenly it had power – so much power that it has made everything I do tainted with that dreaded thought that I could die any time – even in my sleep.
And what would happen to my little prince then? Who would take care of him? Most of all, would he even remember me? Would he even know that once upon a time he loved me or that I loved him with every fiber of my being?
Then I ask myself why I had a child so late in life – because having a child at 40 is late in life, no matter how much I sugar coat it and say it’s not. I ask myself why I didn’t think far ahead enough – that when he’d turn 20, I’ll be in my 60’s. But I just never did think about it then. I was probably too immature to think things through the way I think and worry about them now, simply because age, when paired with mortality, is no longer just a number.