So, the unerring thought that hit me when I turned 50 was, “Why do I look old but feel 27?”
I imagine most of us feel much younger but we adhere to society’s rules, pack away our padded shoulders, big hair and Jelly shoes and sit on the sidelines from now on in. Strange when you think then that, centuries ago the life expectancy of people was low and 40 was a ripe old age. Did these 40 year olds then pack away their corsets, powdered wigs and satin bootees at 20 and think, “Oh well, it’s on the sidelines at the annual ball for me then”?
Perhaps we have become accustomed to what media and money controllers tell us about ourselves, these are the dictators of fads, fashions and “on point” trends after all. I recently heard about an “elderly man” being involved in a home invasion on the news and then I found out to my astonishment he is 56!
The young, fresh faces of twenty year olds beaming out at us through screens of all kinds subliminally tell us we have seen better days. Life is for the young and the beautiful rule the world.
How do we turn the tide on this feeling that we are not “beautiful” or useful any more? We start to see a couple of things. Firstly we must bust the myth that it’s time to hang up our hats on life, who says it is? The faceless? The grabbing hands of capitalism? Who says? What’s in it for them? Money of course! Beauty sells holidays, houses and honeymoons. Beauty sells sex, sedans and sumptuousness.
And the old ain’t beautiful! Well, not to these faceless dictators, we ain’t. And here’s why I want to get my little message across, not that any one of you has not heard it all before that is.
You see, beauty is never defined in one word or by one person because it cannot be. It is infinitely elusive to all but the beholder.
Beauty cannot be compartmentalised, it cannot be given a use by date and it cannot be measured by a camera filter. Beauty to me is not necessarily beauty to you and we have to remind ourselves of this.
Beauty is the embodiment of all of our actions and deeds, our learning and our mistakes, our frailty and our strength and for every event that happens to us over time, this beauty is written somewhere for us to see. It can be a memory, a feeling, a reaction to a light scent, this is beauty. It can be a pain remembered, a joy relived in a dream, but this is beauty.
I remember a friend of mine gazing appreciatively at a Secret Santa gift I had spent time and thought preparing for him. He opened it and was totally thrilled with the gift and also the effort that went into getting it, I had understood him and what he liked and had hit the nail on the head with my gift. He guessed it was me who had been his Secret Santa. Some months later he betrayed the friendship, in a way I won’t go into right now, and as I struggled to make sense of what he had done I remembered my gesture, albeit at first with a sense of self pity for my foolishness, but then with a growing sense of realisation about something within me.
At a time where my trust was shaken I was able to look back and see the effort I had made in the name of friendship, the open heartedness and generosity of a gesture that was to mean nothing to him later on. I felt ashamed of being open and for wearing my heart on my sleeve for a long time until I realised that I should feel pride in the effort, in the thought and the wholehearted way I expressed how I felt. How he felt was none of my business, our friendship was over. I, though, had to retrieve something from it and it was beauty.
Beauty in my often flawed character. Beauty in a small gesture and that beauty could not be diminished by his behaviour. Beauty saved me and it wasn’t on the face of a twenty year old.
Time and tide moves us all and I do feel that although we may not be as fresh and pretty/handsome as we once were, our lives have known beauty and the sum total of it can now be carried on into our next phase.
Oh don’t get me wrong I still catch myself in the mirror of a morning and think: “What the….?” But then it passes as I make a joke about “trying to sleep on your back if you can, that way you wake up with a face lift.” And that too is beauty, that ability to pull ourselves up with a joke and give ourselves a little cheer on the inside.
And besides, if we want to pursue the art of looking our best why not? That is beauty as well, it is about pride and preservation and who cares anyway if we don’t look as good in our clothes as we once did? The fact that we try is beauty.
The fact that we get up and show up is beauty.
SO we go on.
About Joanna Robertson
I am an ordinary woman whose life has featured the usual highs and lows that other lives feature. I live in Perth Western Australia with my husband and two sons, two dogs a cat and two weirdos and I enjoy interactions with people of all walks of life. I have mostly worked in the health industry where I find reward in optimising customer experience in the dental surgery. My passion is writing and I often use a bit of humour in my work. I believe in being positive no matter how I wake up feeling, it’s just a matter of changing the thought so I apply this premise to all aspects of my life, making sure that I am open to the ideas of others and to new possibilities. I believe that we need to continue to work on our lives, we are important and self-love is the key to loving others.