it’s not dark yet…

Aging actually could be fun if it weren’t for the dying. I think it should be fun because really, like Bob Dylan says, ‘It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there’. 

We know so much now and so much better. We have so much experience, we have come to understand what’s important. We know how to value beauty, people, time. We know how to appreciate the things that have challenged us and others. We know that less is more and that experiences trump things. 

And you must know how to have fun, wild crazy fun. Right?

It’s not aging that scares us, it’s dying of course. It’s the dying, stupid. If we just continued to age on and on, if our wrinkles acquired wrinkles and our sags got sags, and then we metamorphosed into something else, something very different looking than the average human being, and, assuming the parts — the livers and hearts and knees etc. — could be replaced, we’d be fine with aging. At least I would be.

Even though the future of life as we know it seems precarious, I would still like to be around for the show. And I find it hard indeed to think of not being here to see, taste, hear, and feel wonderful things.

I have really greedy eyes, I devour pictures of things like they were food. When I say pictures, I mean both the live pictures that my eyes register when I’m out and about, and the images I consume, everywhere from Instagram to TV, books, and magazines.

And feelings. 

Feelings, little rushes of exhilaration due to art, love, exercise, and amusement — soul food. 

Because I’m a visual person, I can’t imagine not seeing beauty, and because I’m a very physical person, I can’t imagine not ever again feeling the rush of endorphins I do when… Continue Reading

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cultivating minimalism

Minimalist artist Frank Stella

Cultivating minimalism, a two (or maybe three) part series…

On one hand, over the past several years, I’ve been intentionally cultivating minimalism. On the other hand, like many of you I’m sure, I love stuff. I love to look at and posses beautiful things, be they vases, sweaters or chairs. I like purchasing. When I see a nicer rug than the one that currently covers the floor, I want it. ‘I want, I need, I must have,’ said my friend Inese, when confronted with the possibility of quenching a desire. 

‘I want,’ is such a fundamental feeling.

At any given point it seems to be about who we are, the wanting. It’s what children learn to say almost before they learn to walk. Because what we want, to a certain extent, defines who we are.

Forget about old Rag and Bone, I want those boots now!

I like vases. There are certain vases whose colors, shapes, and sizes stir up intense desire in me (Greek amphora silhouettes are a favorite), but I do not need many vases, no one does. I’ve always found the notion of collecting anything really quite odd. Isn’t collecting just a sort of hoarding? Unless you collect art…

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she’s become mannish

‘She’s become mannish,’ they used to say. I’ve heard it myself. It was a term given to a woman well into menopause, a woman whose facial features had become ‘coarse,’ more like a man’s. The point was, she was decidedly not feminine. And obviously, the term was derogatory, most often extremely so.

She’s become mannish.

With time, the term mannish has disappeared, and sexist talk has become slightly less overtly offensive. We no longer call women mannish, but we still insinuate that they’re past their ‘prime.’ And critics might comment that certain women have not ‘aged well,’ (it’s like reading a menu at a steak house), or that they should do this or that to make their look softer, more feminine, when what they mean of course is younger.

In short, we want them to make themselves more palatable, to not remind us that the process of aging marches on. The process of aging marches on, though. I recently heard the philosopher of ethics, Heather Widdows, talking about beauty say:

We all sag, wrinkle, and die. 

Celebrities like Frances McDormand, who may have once been called mannish, are now heralded for their ‘bad ass’ looks and attitudes. And even though I’m tired of the saying bad ass, especially when applied to older women, I agree with the sentiment. I completely understand why when someone like McDormand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allie MacDowell or Jessica Lange are seen with little or Continue Reading

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a rag, a bone, a hank of hair

‘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… Continue Reading

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