Friday, February 13, 2009

Solar Return



Aging is humbling, in every way you can imagine. Those who either romanticize or demonize aging (or both) are either in the most severe denial possible or have not yet reached the age of 40. It's right around age 40, sometimes as late as 45, when we humans suddenly realize, almost always with a shock, Oh. This is my life, the life I am now living. All those other lives that I imagined for myself? Fantasies. The sense of having plenty of time to pursue whatever you want for yourself evaporates during the decade of the forties. It becomes absolutely clear that our precious lives in this form are finite.

It is a shock, hence mid-life crises.

One of the best things about my trip to Rome a few years ago was the opportunity to watch women of around my age. In that culture, women are proud, always, at every age. I watched so many gorgeous women, silver-haired, wrinkled perhaps, but still beautifully dressed in their perfect silk or linen sheath dresses and high heels, faces impeccably made up, heads held high, striding down the cobblestone streets. After that trip, I came to understand that there's no need to be ashamed of growing older. I didn't do anything wrong, after all, I just haven't died yet. I too can hold my head high, why not?

Still, it takes me aback a bit to understand that the earth has made yet another full turn around the sun since the last time it was February 13. Faster and faster the years fly by. Wheeee!!!

56 comments:

Jane said...

Happy birthday, my dear sister!

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Thank you Reya for your insight. I just made 50, and have a lot of mixed feelings about this milestone.
I think Italian (and French women) age more gracefully than Americans.

Celestite said...

"I didn't do anything wrong, after all, I just haven't died yet."

That's great. Our youth oriented society is just not balanced and it doesn't serve any of us well.

Reya Mellicker said...

Cagny, yes I think it's culturally OK to age in Italy. Here you're supposed to do everything you can not to age, which is so funny, isn't it? As if there could really be such a thing as "anti-aging cream." What was it Elizabeth Arden said? That cosmetics are nothing more than hope in a jar?

Everyone I know who is over 45 is conflicted about it. How could we not be?

Just...Lauren said...

I suppose age is just another journey. I must say that all my fanatical dreamings about different futures are seeming do dwindle down a bit.
Thank you for your continuous insight.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Happy Birthday, Reya!
I retired at age 60 and a few months into my retirement and after the dust settled, I began to wonder what I had done with my life and ask myself why didn't I do more? It's not that I did anything wrong; I just wish I'd done some things better. Now I think I can contribute in some fashion, but am leaving the rest to you younger folks.
Don't chastise yourself ... enjoy what you are doing & try to do it better!
Have a fabulous day & weekend!
xxx ooo Cheryl

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Hey Girl,
Check out my open letter to your dog Jake! ;)

e said...

Happy Birthday!

I think I am the only woman I know who looks forward to turning 50!

When I was born, the docs predicted my imminent demise! I am still confounding them!

You have so much spark and energy!

Have fun!

steviewren said...

Happy Birthday Reya! Wear your age proudly.

As to life's achievements...they are never done until life is done. Thanks for reminding me of that.

I hopped over here from Willow's today. Congrats on being #43. I'm interested in knowing which books she chooses for you.

willow said...

I do wish our American society would take a few pointers from the Italians. Why shouldn't we hold our heads high?! I love this!

Happy Birthday, Reya! There's a surprise over at my place for you. It must be in the stars!

Hammer said...

Picasso said it takes a long time to become young. You, my dear, have pulled it off masterfully. Much love!

Joanne said...

Happy Birthday, Reya! I've found the best way to enjoy times, and thoughts, and anxieties, is to embrace where you're at. Something wonderful happens when we "own it!"

Poetikat said...

I understand congratulations are in order. Happy Birthday and Congrats on winning Willow's contest.
Your blog is wonderful. I will be back to visit again.

I'm edging my way to 50 (I'll be 48 this year) but I feel pretty good about it. I like your remarks about how Italian women are comfortable with themselves at any age. I'm striving for that.

Kat

Hilary said...

Happy Birthday. :)

Tracie said...

by way of willow.. i'm here and a new fan!
Happy Birthday!!

blessings,
Tracie

Pandora said...

Oh, sweetie. Happy birthday, baby!

The day I turned 50, I woke up, adn the first thing I thought was, It's my birthday! I'm 70!

And I was SO EXCITED, but then I remembered I was only 50.

Still it's ok. It hasn't hit me yet that things are finite, probably cause I don't believe they are -- I'm still finishing up some stuff I started several lifetimes ago with the Catholic Church, for instance, and I've started other projects that probably I'll need to work on in some other place, some other time.

In the meantime, I try it get soem things done, but mostly I think that if I just live in the moment, that will work pretty well.

I love you. come visit.

Kim said...

Reya,

I gather from deductive reasoning that it is your birthday, so Happy Birthday!

I am fairly young not even 23 but close and I am having a "young life" cris as you described. Waking up each day to a life I don't think I want forces me to live gracefully. Thank you for your description of the women of Rome they seem so magical.

You have truly sparked my curiousity as to what will happen next. I hope that you have a great day. Take Jake for a walk enjoy today and be sure to eat some cake!

Always, Kim

mary said...

Happy, Happy Birthday!
I just found you through Willow and can't wait to read through your posts. I have some other thoughts about age ....but that's for another time. Enoy your special weekend.

A Brush with Color said...

Happy Birthday! What a lovely way of looking at it, too. I so agree with European women and other cultures' attitudes, compared to ours here in America. Life is to be celebrated. I came to your blog from Willow's.

And I'm a huge fan of all things Italian...my trip to Italy some years back changed me forever--such a beautiful, rich culture.

janis said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you, Happy
Happy Birthday Dear Reya,
Happy Birthday to You!
You are one of my favorite reads! I love the way you write! You are so thoughtful and wise. You always make me think. Then there is the photography! OMGosh! You are stunning! You have a true gift and I appreciate that you share it with us all.
So Thank you my dear Reya!
Have a Beautiful Birthday Day!

rothko said...

Happy Birthday, Reya! Hugs and kisses and things of that nature.

PS: I think I hit my mid-life crisis realization that "this is my life" at about 30. And it isn't going away. I hope it doesn't get worse at 40, but I guess I'll know soon enough.

tam said...

Reya dear, in Afrique you are not taken seriously until you are of a certain age, and you're not there yet! Where i come from, the elderly are accorded enormous respect and awe. After all, they will soon make the great journey, and will represent us to the ancestors. We must love and honour them. Youth? Pah, we are good for nothing but hard work and bearing children. It is the elders who must raise the children. They are capable of doing so responsibly. Sadly even these values are eroding now. Viva your riches of experience and wisdom, viva!

Washington Cube said...

Happy Birthday, you little Aquarian, you.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

The concept of time fascinates me right now. It seems so elastic. Yesterday it seemed to move by so slowly, uncommonly slow. I'd look at the clock, do a bunch of stuff and look at the clock again, only to find out that just five minutes had passed. Other days, I don't know where the time goes. Are we in some kind of warp? I know that time doesn't really exist, it's only now, but still.....

uought2b.a.dog said...

Happy Birthday! And early Happy Valentines Day, too!

Ronda Laveen said...

Yes, what is it the French say? A woman isn't even intersting until she reaches her 40's? I admire the European attitude of aging...all except the high heeled shoes, of course. Can you still be sexy in flats or Birkenstocks?

Happy, Happy Birthday, my aquarian friend. Carpe Diem and Carpe Willow's Prize (quick)!

Moonroot said...

Happy Birthday, Dear Reya!

Adrianne said...

Happy birthday today, and may you have many, many more, holding your wonderful head high all the while. I love you and am so pleased to know you, my Reya. (: )

c james. said...

I'm one of those people pushing 40 (in about a year). I'll admit I could not wait to turn 30, but now I feel the real "power of knowledge" paradigm shift will be my 40s. Can't wait.

Amy said...

Happy Birthday!

Aging with grace and dignity is what I hope for. Being in one's 40's certainly does start putting things in perspective, but it's not necessarily making me feel old.

Here's my take: My mother and Tina Turner are the exact same age. My mother uses a cane, is overweight, complains a lot and grunts and groans with every move she makes. Tina Turner recently decided to go back on tour and she looks and sounds fantastic. If I have the choice to go into the winter of my life like my mother or like Tina....I'm goin' like Tina!

Part of aging is, well...age. The other part is a state of mind.

From what I can tell, your state of mind is going to keep you "young" for quite some time!

vicki archer said...

Age has nothing to do with beauty and the sooner we women understand that, the better. Wonderful post Reya. xv

Eddy said...

"Everyone is the age of their heart." ~Guatemalan Proverb
Happy Birthday!

John Hayes said...

I join in the birthday wishes, & also want to say this is a marvelous post-- so true; I think beyond learning "this is my life," we sometimes also realize that we have to accept things that didn't go the way we wanted them to go in the past & learn to accept them rather than believe they'll somehow come around again to be made right. Hope that makes sense.

Lover of Life said...

It is so true. I refuse to give in to carving myself up in order to look younger! I earned these wrinkles.

Steve said...

Happy birthday!

The Family Julz said...

Happy Birthday Beautiful! What a wonderful, inspiring, joy-filled post.

My teen years were spent wishing I was in my twenties. My twenties were spent wishing I was in my thirties. Now that I'm in my thirties, I've stopped wishing for time to fly by. I'm thoroughly enjoying each day as it is given. My role models have always been women like Mother Teresa and Jane Goodall. I'm not scared of aging, I look forward to the peace of mind and wisdom the years bring.

runmotman said...

i find myself constantly wishing it were tommorrow, and then wondering why i am wishing my life away--probably because at 45 (tommorrow)i'm not close to doing what or being who i really want to be...it seems to me you have reached that point, or are very close, so Happy Birthday!

Sandra Leigh said...

When my older sister turned fifty, she called me to say ¨"I can´t believe I´ve turned the F word!" Now, we´ve all left the F word far behind - even my baby sister is about to turn the S word - and wé´now wonder what all the fuss was about. Personally, I hope to get a whole lot older - and I wish you the same, Reya. Happy Birthday!

Rebecca Clayton said...

Wheee! indeed. Happy Birthday, Reya!

Delwyn said...

Forget the high heels, forget the makeup, forget the haute couture, and remember that every line on your face is a part of your character coming into it's own and reflects your true self...who wants to walk in high heels on cobbled footpaths dodging dog shit???

Delwyn said...

P.S. Double wishes - Birthday and Valentines Day here now....

Wildeve said...

Happy Birthday, Reya! I've been thinking about the same things lately.

kathi said...

Happy Birthday Reya! Loved your post today. Got me thinking, again. I'm 60 now, look like 40 IMHO, and feel like 30. I don't worry about my age or how I look now or how I'll look in another 40 years! My Aunt Adelaide will turn
101 on February 27th! I hope to be just like her when I grow up!
Wheeeee indeed!

ArtSparker said...

I believe one appreciates the time more as one grows older...Hope you have a great celebration.

Gary said...

Happy birthday Reya. I don't know what you looked like when you were younger but you are certainly looking 'fine' these days gurl. So, put on your high heels and strut cause at any age you would turn heads (mine included). xoxo

Lisa said...

so very true- and I have a gold pooch too Lisa xx

Renee said...

How beautiful and how true.

Love your blog.

Renee

Dale Rogers said...

Happy B-day. I just stumbled across your blog. I do not yet know the concept of turning 40 yet, as I am only 30. I do look forward to turning older. It saddens me yet makes me happy. I feel that one is not truely older as long as they feel young at heart. If someone is beautiful on the inside it is personified regardless of what they wear or do. Happy blogging and again, Happy B-day, may you have many more.

Susan said...

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." Madeleine L'Engle

Six weeks before I turned 40, my divorce was final. A month later, I lost my job. What to do? Throw myself a birthday party and invite all my friends and family to celebrate life beginning again!

Ten years later, time for another milestone--the big 5-0. My rules for this party were no black balloons... no over-the-hill. Like fine wine, I am aging.

I work for a company that worships youth. There are only a handful of us in our fifties and sixties. The temptation to dye my hair and look younger assaults me! The younger women at work tell me "no"! So I love the idea of walking with pride...I haven't done anything wrong--I'm a beautiful, experienced example of LIFE!

Happy Birthday!

Cyndy said...

Happy Birthday!

Don Parker said...

Before I turned 40 -- a long time ago -- the mother of a friend told me what happened about that age for her. She said that before 40, when she entered a room with people she didn't know, she would go in hoping they liked her. After 40, she didn't think about that any more; she'd go in hoping she would like them.

Mmm said...

This is so very true. nicely written. I came here from Willow's blog.

lettuce said...

Happy Birthday dear - I hope you will have a great weekend.

Perfect pictures for a birthday post, and you are absolutely right about one's 40's.

Brenda Heisler said...

I love my age! I want to live to be 100 and I'm already 58. Life is a great journey!

I'm enjoying your blog.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,

Happy Birthday!

"Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be"

What a great saying on the sundial, and every new day is a chance for another adventure. We never know what lies ahead.

Having a Birthday beats NOT having a Birthday!

Have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you all of you!

What a great birthday - thanks!