Obviously aging beats the alternative.
Obviously aging is a privilege. A luxury. The gift of life itself.
Obviously the beauty myth lives strongly in our culture, and the idea that youth is superior to aging permeates every nook and cranny of modern society.
Obviously this shit messes with our heads.
But isn’t it also natural to grieve the end of a life phase, and the death of a major part of our identity?
Must we toughen up and cut off the authenticity of our feelings, and the truth of our process, in order to fit the empowered woman, feminist model?
Yes. Aging in our culture is made into something shameful. Yes. That’s fucked up. But should we shame the woman who feels sad as she experiences the shedding of her youth?
Is it so shameful to cry about the change in outer appearance, and the markings of the passage of time on our faces and bodies?
Yes. Nature has her loving hands deep in the soil of our skin… Tilling. Digging. Draining.
Is it not only natural also to be mourning the loss of smoothness and firmness and juiciness?
Is it such a shame to grieve the most superficial expression of youth?
Yes. There is profound beauty in growing wiser, and wearing the crown of the crone.
But how can we deny the loss? Why should we try to eliminate raw and real stages in one’s experience?
We can do better than that!
Life is complex. Must we try to simplify our experience of it? Do we have to try to reduce it into just one point of view? Can’t we see more than one perspective as valid? Can we not hold the paradox respectfully?
We can be immersed in sadness and appreciation both. We can be present with grief and gratitude. We can feel beauty in loss. We can create value within emptiness. We can find meaning in superficiality. We can mourn the loss of our youth, while we step slowly onto the seat of the queen, wearing the most precious jewels – jewels we never dared to wear as a maiden, and never had time to as a mother.
We can hold each other accountable for raising awareness and changing the conversation about age and femininity. And we can hold space for each other to go through our processes in authentic and complicated ways. We can hold each other up by allowing one another to taste all the flavors and feel all the feelings. We don’t need to put each other down by trying to shape a false reality in which one would be blind to the painful shattering of the aspects of identity that have their foundation rooted in outer appearance.
We are somatic beings. We are a body. And our relationship with the world emerges out of the physical experience of being ourselves. It is natural for us to have a reaction to the changes in our physicality.
We can argue that it is all because of the ways that our society is obsessed with youthfulness and outer appearance. We can blame patriarchy, and the male dominance of the world. We can say that it doesn’t matter how we look or how old we are, that what matters is the inner gaze, not the outer. But is that really the whole truth?
Aging is a privilege. For sure! And it is also marked with profound thresholds. We walk through gateways that open up to new terrains. In those rights of passage, we must leave parts of ourselves behind, and say goodbye forever. There is sadness in that. There is beauty. There is deep terror and painful processes. There’s wisdom. There’s exciting new ways of being. And there’s not wanting to separate from aspects of life and parts of ourselves that no longer belong in the new world we enter.
And so there’s grief.
May we learn to honor grief.
Even when we think one shouldn’t be grieving over this or that.
May we honor each other as we move through the doorways of life.
May we hold space for ourselves and for one another, to experience the nuanced, complex, and rich ways of life.
And may our authentic, true, vulnerable, raw, and open ways of walking through the different stages of life, show us how to age gracefully.