‘A rag, a bone, a hank of hair.’ That’s the inevitable answer to the question ‘what’s going to become of me?’ A rag, a bone, a hank of hair, that’s what. The clump of flotsam you come upon on the beach. The kind of stuff you can be both drawn to and freaked out by. The kind of thing kids might say “ugh” and “ewww” about.
I explore those things, poking at them with a stick, and then tugging on the line, holding the wad up with two fingers like it was either a delicacy or a wad of hair just fished out of the drain.
A rag, a bone, a hank of hair.
It’s what I’m becoming, happily, almost joyfully. I’m deeply aware of it happening, the shedding of what’s no longer necessary and the increasing focus on what’s good and lasting.
On a superficial level, I still go about my indulgent routine of…
face cream-pedicure-depilate-eyebrows-more cream, etc. For me it’s a happy thing, a simple ‘fluffing up’ I enjoy. I do it because I want to.
Things I love, things I believe in, and things I want. The loves have become even more precious, the fundamental beliefs stronger, and the wants actually, simpler.
Increasingly, what I need is a different narrative, a different way to tell my story. What I need is to be old my way. With my winged eye liner, my wide leather belts and tattoos, and my grey Peakey Blinders-like haircut.
I need to be old my way, we all do.
I can’t even mention the things I still hear and read, often from people I once respected, about what women of any age need to believe, do, look like, wear — and not. All the polite suggestions and useless advice that still flows freely from the keyboards of people endlessly advising and ‘influencing’ is not congruent with aging my way. Is it with yours?
It was exasperating years ago, when I started reading blogs and blogging, now it’s just plain unnecessary. Stop telling women what to do, all of us, young and old!
These days, when I hear comments about how bad all the 20 year-olds’ tattoos are going to look in 20 or 30 years, I laugh, because honestly, the way things are going, they will still be expected to cover those ‘unsightly arms’ in 2050.
Me, I’m becoming something light, almost ephemeral.
Aging isn’t scaring me all that much; denial has never been my friend. Reality can be painful but denial ruins people’s lives. I feel easier in my non-elastic skin than when it sprung back. In most ways, I’ve never been healthier. And while I might be light and ephemeral, I am in no way weak in mind or body.
The other day, standing on the beach by the Baltic sea, I was allowing the wind and sand to wear me down and buff me, like a piece of sun-warmed, soft-to-the-touch driftwood. Feeling these lines that I’d recently read in An Imaginary Life, by Australian writer David Malouf:
‘I have stopped finding fault with creation and have learned to accept it. We have some power in us that knows its own ends. It is that that drives us on to what we must finally become. We have only to conceive of the possibility and somehow the spirit works in us to make it actual. This is the true meaning of transformation. This is the real metamorphosis.’
I’m not succumbing, I’m choosing. Transformation. And, purification, that feeling those of us who love being by the sea experience, because there’s something equally expansive and centering about it…
To learn more about where the saying ‘A rag, a bone, and a hank of hair’ comes from, go here.
Next up, ‘mannish.’
P.S. And just like that, I’m back. After I wrote my last post, on August 20, 2020, I became unable to write. While others took the opportunity provided by the Covid lockdown to hunker down and become the prolific writer they had always imaged they could be, I went into a prolonged period of just living, experiencing. And I just couldn’t write.
It shouldn’t have been surprising; I had transplanted my husband and myself, during a pandemic, to a largely unknown place at the age of 64! So I gave myself a break, a big long break.
Honestly, two years ago, I didn’t know if I would ever return to writing and the blog. Those of you who write on a regular basis know, that while it’s compelling, it can also be frustrating. Sometimes we don’t know if it’s better to be read or not. But we also know that something always seems to call us back to this weird place of self-disclosure and vulnerability.
During these 2 years, I’m sure that things have changed for you as well. How are you transforming?