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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wrapped in age


I think turning fifty or there abouts is a marker, a place to stop, briefly, and look back, but then forward. One can not escape too many days in your fifties when a person who used to be fifty is, suddenly, ninety.

Life is just a flash. For me, it gets flashier, with each year zipping by. I'm with Neil Young who recently said, at the age of 60+, "I don't feel old when I play my guitar, I just look old". I don't feel old as I paint, or walk the dog, or brush my horse, but I know I look older than I did even a year ago. One looks in a mirror and says, "Is that what I 'really" look like?" I have come to a point in my life where I really don't like to see pictures of myself. It's not that I hate the way I look, but the photo can often confuse me, and leaves me wasting a good couple minutes pondering physical changes that have nothing to do with my energy or ability to contribute to my life and yours.

I think the concept of one's own body, one's own 'look' is very hard to grasp from the inside looking out. I had to go through some old photos to find one of my grandfather. I saw a movie in paper play out before me as I saw pictures from my youth, teens, college, 30's and on. I analyzed the year my more youthful skin and looks made a tiny turn to looking like the mid 40's I was. And now, I see it pretty clearly, I look every day of 50 & 10 months. It's ok, but it can leave a melancholy. The melancholy is not for sadness of lost youth, it's for the realization of the things that were there in your youth. I awoke in the morning from a dream, a dream where I was with my good friend from high school, and we dined with my parents. I lie in bed, thinking how good they looked, what were they in the dream, sixty or so? I read that in our dreams, the dead come to us in the age that we perceived them to be at their optimum in our lives. And I guess, my parents in their 60's was a good time. Still healthy, able to travel and fix houses, still working, still buying dogs and rose bushes. While my mother still lives, she is tied to activities that make her feel safe from falling. She recently told me she didn't like flying alone anymore, because "If I die, who would be there with me, strangers."

I read a blog recently where a 35 year old woman announced boldly that she "was no longer young". Wow, I thought, she needs some perspective, but I guess that's what life gives you, perspective.

18 comments:

Laura said...

Katherine, I read your blog but don't post much. But I recently turned 43 and have been struggling with this whole issue lately. I want to tell you, "thank you" for giving me some perspective.

Apifera Farm said...

Glad you wrote, Laura. It's been a process for me, going on for a year or so now. I can't say I'm unhappy, in fact, I'm more grounded and happy than ever. Would I keep my skin like it was in my 40's, sure, but I guess I'm just like the leaves outside. It's funny, I NEVER am critical of another person's aging, in fact, I 'feel' them, as in their energy, and I have to remember, or hope , that that is what is left after I leave a room - my energy, not the fact I look older than I did the last time someone saw me. I also think the transition of 50 [or thereabouts, depending on your genetics] is a 'bump' and once you adjust to your body's changes, the next changes aren't as mind blowing.

I'm just happy I can move and use my body and hands in the things I love. I always say I will work 'till I die, but sometimes, our bodies can't get that far, so I feel fortunate, and just want to cram as much into the next years as I can!

Tonia said...

I turned 40 this last summer. It was really hard for me. Harder than I ever thought it could be. 40seems like such a big number in relation to me. I guess partly because I am SEEING and feeling the changes physically but also because I still feel like I did when I was 20 and casting about for "my reason for being here." I appreciate reading your perspective on the process. Thanks for sharing. -tonia

Apifera Farm said...

Hey Tonia. I think it does make a difference at any age if you are following a path you've chosen and feel like it is 'it'. I came to my path sort of late, like 38 ish, so my 40's were awesome, if not filled with the normal life stuff one deals with.

When I was about 40, I had a good friend who was 7 years older. We're still friends. But back then we were gabbing about age, etc, and I said something about noticing my body change, and she said 'wait until 47"...she was right. Then when I turned 50 and she was 57, we compared notes again. We laughed about it all though.

I kind of think there is just this 'wobbly' period in any big change in life, and it takes a bit to get the right bearings again.

I just hope for conintued body health, at this stage.

Mare said...

You know Katherine, i just came back this weekend from my Parent's house, with a bag of old photos from my youth. I looked at pictures of me and i thought...i don't remember being that little, that thin, that pretty, that fat! All the different stages of my life gone past...But you know, i just turned 54, and when i look in the mirror, my appearance isn't as physically youthful or attractive as it might have been in the past, but the body and face i see now is more "me" than it has ever been before. I can say that i feel more settled and more comfortable in my skin than ever before. I like this getting older. I am sure once my body starts to ache and hurt more, and things get more difficult to accomplish i will sing another tune, but now i feel free...less attached to what others think of me or want from me, and more me...more authentic, than ever before. Thanks for making me think! :)

Apifera Farm said...

hey Mare- I know that feeling of looking at photos too. Doesn't it almost seem like'another life' or person. Honestly, sometimes I connect myself more with the body I see of the pre 12 year old [than the 20-50 year old pictures. I also think pictures, due to lighting,etc, really can make some people look not like themselves. Martyn looks likehimself pretty much, I never feel like I do.

But I also relate to not feeling as attached to the outside worlds standards of what we should look like. I notice the physical limits already, but yes, I sit and see my tummy bulge, and I don't feel as conserned, as long as I have eaten well that day and have moved and worked to my best. We all just do our best, heh?

farmlady said...

I thought I was "over the hill" at 30. It was painful. Then, at 40 I got cancer and thought I would die. It was painful. At 50 I was thankful to still be here but I started looking different. It was painful. Now I'm 64 and life is..., good. I don't know what will come. I live each day fully and don't worry about what "may" happen. Life is dogs, chickens and goats now. Life is good. The body hurts more but oh, the wisdom is wonderful.
You have a very good life. Enjoy it! Be surprised.

Apifera Farm said...

Oh Farmlady, you have perspective. Yes, I have a good life and do enjo it. SOmetimes I'm so aware of my good life [albeit not a economically easy life] that sometimes I thinl I must act quickly as I want to do so much more and it's going fast. But, one must just live and enjoy the down moments and the quiet sceonds in between activity. I'm glad you survived cancer, and that is not an experience I would relish, but it gave you many wisdom,s which I'm glad you shared. The 'looking diferent" thing is definately a transition.

coloredsock said...

nice collage, K. i dunno. i feel like i feel younger than ever. maybe that has something to do with how i feel more present and happier and just more aware than i have ever been. my younger years kinda just slooshed together, but these past 8 years i have lived fuller if that makes sense. and even having a baby in my 30s, i know i'll feel even younger. i'm excited and well, i may have more wrinkles but hey! they're smiley wrinkles and that's kinda fun. and i feel great, too---i'm in better health than i ever was in my 20s!!!

Apifera Farm said...

Hey Jenny - I'm sure being pregnant adds a whole new dimension to the body-mind-perception thing. I'm glad you feel so good, and young- because you are young! I never felt old or young in my 20-40's, I'm just saying that 50 is definately, for me, a transitional period for my body,muscles, skin, hair, hormones,limits,memory, and perspective. I don't feel 'old' but I certainly don't feel young. I just feel like me. But it's like my life has been a series of acts or passages, and this is a passage. I always felt every decade got better for me, so I hope for that now, but the fifties feel much more unique than any other decade I've been in.

Keep that baby safe!!! xo

Debbie said...

People asked how it felt to be in my 40's. I replied,"About the same as my 30's". When I turned 50, I was given a red hat. I looked at that and had a hard time relating to the hat thinking of ladies I knew with red hats. Suddenly, at 53 me body is saying that I'm getting older.I look in the mirror and wonder "who is that?" Inside,in the ME, there is wisdom of my years. Maybe that is who I see in the mirror. The part of ME that is emerging, the part of me that has grown out of my younger years.The part of ME I am getting to know. I really like this person and am comfortable with her.

Thank you for your wisdom, and your courage to be who you are.
Debbie

Apifera Farm said...

Debbie- that is so well put! I can agree with your feelings entirely. Lest anyone think it, we are NOT complaining, but just explaining the feeling of 'turning'....

coloredsock said...

yeah, i feel that 'turning' in your words, too. it's actually pretty awesome to read them and all the comments. i have many friends here in their 50s and sense some of this. a big transformation no doubt, but awesome, too. i'm going to bookmark this passage for when i get there...xo

Apifera Farm said...

Oh I definately want tohear from you at 50! Just think I'll be over 60....

mansuetude said...

this is so beautiful
what if there were no mirrors... i wonder that.

I ask my aging beagle, how come you always look so good and you never brush your hair?

I feel lighter, as i get older...

Bethany said...

A few years ago, I began to notice my fear of aging and, though I was not yet 30, decided to take it on. I don't want to grow older reluctantly, but embrace each new stage as the gift it is. I am looking around for good role models (my mother-in-law provides inspiration almost daily on my quest of balancing new growth with self-acceptance) and you are on the list. Thank you for your helpful words.

Apifera Farm said...

Wow, I'm a role model...I'm honored, Bethany I think to that which you seek answers you will learn. Have you tried dancing? I will be posting on this next week, so stay tuned. I have many role models too, and it's good to have nurturing and guidnace that way - I really would not want to live my younger years over, but am glad I had them, or I wouldn't be here, at this moment! I think most people just want their bodies to work right.

Apifera Farm said...

I know what you mean, I think, when you say, 'getting lighter' - I feel like my body is a vehicle for my soul and my time on earth, and as I go about the day, I really don't think that much about my 'vehicle', it's like If I saw a breeze blow a leaf, I would'nt try to make the breeze have a form.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~