On Aging – For Katherine
Posted on September 17, 2015
My dearest Katherine Rose, the most beautiful flower of any garden:
I’ve been too tardy in writing to you because I’ve been wandering the world like the unkept woman I am. Spending my days enjoying the dalliances of life. Eating splendid cuisines and traveling to exotic places with languages I can barely speak. But I didn’t forget you. I never do.
A great deal of consideration goes into these letters, and on the heels of my 31st birthday it felt appropriate to educate you on the fallacies of aging. When you find yourself staring at the doorway of 30 culture will instill a fear in you that suggests your life is over. This is evermore true for women who are 30+ with no man to call their own and no children to coddle. It’s an ugly myth that stems from patriarchy’s hatred of women. Find yourself a lover, and bore him some babies society will say. When this occurs–and I feel confident that it will occur in your lifetime–I do not want you to find yourself in a panic.
As I sit in my bedroom watching the clock move towards midnight–five days closer to my new year of life I have never felt more beautiful, more whole, more joyful and more self-assured. I’ve never felt more connected to the Creator because entering my thirties bestowed on me the realization that at this age life is just beginning. Getting older is the gateway to wisdom, self-actualization and purified love.
I suspect few people share this knowledge out of concern that it sounds cliche. Yet, every cliche has some increments of truth. For what it offers, aging is glorious because it is the only change we cannot escape. And that is what scary for people: knowing that no matter how hard we try to fight it we will all change. What we miss when we entertain the ruminating fear over change is that the change aging brings is change for the better.
I won’t dull you with the details of what occurred during my twenties. None of us needs to relive that kind of trauma. I will, however, indulge you in the majesty of what happens over the hill.
Shortly after I turned 30 last year I noticed a new snugness when I put on my jeans. As someone who’s spent most of her life in a petite frame it was an astonishing revelation that my hips spread. My body–my magnificent body–was telling me that if I decided to, I could house a baby. And I was tickled at the prospect of all the generations that would come from my expanding womb. How delightful it is to know I had been given that kind of power, a woman only three decades into life.
Other things about me changed too.
I’m a lot calmer than I used to be. Few things rile me. I’ve also learned to let go of that which is not for me a lot more quickly than in my past. Aging buckled me to surrender. By 30 I had been knocked around a bit, so I easily discerned that the world didn’t revolve around me. Being knocked around was good for me. It swelled my heart with humility, compassion and gratitude. In this way, aging is a gift.
Speaking of my heart. Oh my goodness! My heart has changed, too. Adolescence and arrogance seem to work in tandem. Before 30 I had all the answers. There wasn’t a question I couldn’t opine, nor a situation I couldn’t solve. But then I was broken by false love, and redeemed by real Love. I was romanced. Adored among a cadre of companions. I enjoyed the delight of physical sensuality. My eyes were opened, and when I looked back on it all–after the numbness of expectations wore off–I saw I was living, truly living.
The revelation shifted my heart like an eclipse. For the first time life tasted good–different–as if I had my first sampling of Veuve Clicquot. I catapulted into 30 with widening hips, curly hair, and crows feet not wanting to go back. I wanted more of this goodness–the unfiltered humanity that comes from seeing yourself grow up.
So it will be with you my sweet god daughter, and because of those reasons you will have nothing to fear as you get older. You will have every bit of assurance that society is wrong. Your hair will not suddenly go gray over night and even if it does it just means you’re more wiser than the rest of us. Your vagina will not wither into a raisin-like state. You will not be an old maid, a spinster or a forgotten member of society. You will not die among a legion of cats.
Aging will show you that you are a woman. Spiritually. Emotionally. Relationally. Your femininity will be powerful, forceful and unavoidable. You will walk in a room and heads will turn because the fullness of life will be hosted in you. Your eyes will grow wide from the splendor you bear witness to as you move through your lifetime.
And when you decide it is time you will share the glory of your light with someone.
With that person, you will choose to make the most of the minutes that usher you into the inevitable change. There will be beauty, and tragedy, and uncertainty. You will take walks on the beaches of islands we didn’t know existed. Hands will be held, kisses exchanged. There will be spontaneous dancing to old music while wine is being poured.
You will spend lazy Saturday mornings entangled in bed sheets incessantly giggling at how wonderfully it all came together. Then you will see that as we age the more youthful we become.
With all my love,