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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.