Growing Older, Growing Wiser
As the dulcet tones of Nat King Cole emanate from my computer, I ponder the wonderful words of one of my mentors, anthropologist Angeles Arrien: “…after age 40, women’s masculine side erupts, and men become more open-hearted or feminine.” It’s not unusual to see a guy cry in the movie theater as he watches the romance unfold onscreen; he is ecstatic at the blooming of a rose and the laughter of a small child. Remember, in Sex and the City 2, Carrie’s husband John was fixated on the romantic comedy It Happened One Night, a Claudette Colbert favorite from the 1930s, while Carrie goes on about her infidelity. Interesting juxtaposition. He can’t take his eyes off the TV; Carrie wants to make love.
My mom taught me that in order to “catch a guy” I needed to study his interests and carry on intelligent conversations with him about HIS interests, so I took many courses in psychology, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I studied football and enthusiastically cheered the team of my beau’s choosing. I was always one step ahead of him in politics. I even joined the John Birch Society in my pursuit of him. He was a hardcore Conservative Republican, which didn’t quite fit my style, but hey, this is serious business. We’re talking marriage here.
I thought I made love better than any other woman on the planet. And, by the way, if anyone tells you we didn’t “do it” back in the day, AHEMMM!!!!
So, back to this moment, a place where I’m most comfortable. The dark night of the soul of youthful anxieties is behind me now. I am more or less everything I knew I was but was inhibited from by the perceptions of society, parents, friends, bosses. But now it’s as though the light has been turned on within, and I’m free to participate in this world, in this life, from a truthful place.
In traditional cultures, elders are highly revered for their experience and wisdom and are treated with a great deal of reverence and respect. First, we must respect who we are, who we have become, knowing that our true gifts lie in all the years of experience we have accumulated over the years. Each and every wrinkle is a testament to that experience. I have found that people look to me for honest answers, because I will no longer tell them what they want to hear.
So what about the aches and pains that accompany the aging process? We must learn to take care of ourselves physically and spiritually. Boomers often didn’t start exercising until after age 40 or 50, as they also began to eat consciously. I put myself in the care of a macrobiotic consultant for a while. I broke out of the mainstream American diet of meat and potatoes and responded more consciously to the needs of my body. I would often ask myself why I had to work so hard at eating properly. Chew 100 times; only eat white fish; eat dark green leafy vegetables. Not easy, but my body was more at peace.
Dr. Jonathan Young, psychologist/mythologist, suggests that we should respect our body’s need to slow down. Slowing down is good; meditation helps our consciousness and also is an aid to slowing down. Often, I thought this aging process takes a lot of work, requires an awareness that is new to me.
There are new forms of self-expression available to us during our wisdom years. Dr. Arrien says that if you can take care of pets and plants, you are ready for a relationship. Who knew?
Life is full of promise now, as I explore and appreciate the wonders of being a senior. Germaine Greer once said that when she looked back over her life, she was stunned at how much time she wasted on trying to nail a guy.
So, here’s to the love and appreciation we older dames experience.