Friday, November 5, 2010

Growing Young

Is beauty the perky, freckled, fresh eyed, softness that comes with youth
The embodiment of attractiveness,
Is beauty the beginning, the spirited purity
the state of naturalness that happens before we are wise
our bodies before they are used
our feelings for the first time
Is beauty what happens before our skin starts to weep
before our souls accept age
before we know how it is to feel old
Does beauty end when our eyes lose their focus
searching, feeling
losing track of
Is it lost when our hands become pained
when our gold streaks turn silver
when our adventures die
as we settle down into our old lives
here, not there
in our homes
baking cookies
does our beauty end as we grow stagnant in our bodies
is it then the time to let the young be young
and let the old grow old
and die
We become as we are told to be
exhausted and grey
Is this where beauty ends
Is this where I must stop being me

I wasn't sure how to end this poem, I don't write poetry too often and have caught myself saying how much I hate it (because I usually do). But at times it is raw and forgiving. Poetry can turn something previously inexpressible into words - providing a sense of clarity. Its like... Pictionary.

Anyway, what I was trying to express is this notion of beauty and how it seems to drop off for women in particular as they age. I think that our culture is so caught up in the notion of beauty being this lanky limbed, smooth skinned picture of perfection. What we fail to realize is the ability for women to be beautiful in differing ways. We don't recognize a middle aged woman's long grey locks as beautiful. Or the bump of a mother's belly. We don't see that the rough hands of an aging grandmother conceal years of hard work, of talent, and of propriety. Beauty is not perfection, it is the ever changing process of growth - unique to each individual. To be hardworking is beautiful. To care, love, have strength, express individuality, to stand up for one's freedoms, to rebel, to be confident. To be a woman is to be beautiful. Very few people realize this and in many cases, fail to recognize the beauty within themselves as they grow and change each day.

This is a powerful notion to me because I must admit that I too am afraid to grow old. I'm afraid to change and to misunderstand my body and my emotions. I'm afraid of others' reactions. Isn't everyone?

I was inspired by Nirrimi of We Live Young and her post about being a mother, her childhood and chasing her dreams. I want to challenge notions of beauty and define for myself what it means to be beautiful. I think its important to my own sense of self that I realize this. Aging is not leaving a state of beauty but evolving beautiful in oneself. We aren't finished life as soon as we 'become old' but are entering a new phase of adventure, growth and identity. When I am old I want to travel, be free and live in exotic places. I want to read books, raise my children and continue to learn, in love alongside the person with whom I was always meant to be.

My inability to post inspirational photos of my own can be blamed on a physical lack of a camera and old photos from my childhood - which I plan to do later - I've posted a couple Annie Leibovitz instead. I love her work, forever and always.


Melissa harling said...

Wow!!!! Love it.... You need to not hate poetry!! Your clearly gifted! I enjoyed this
Very much! I almost want to thank you for writing this honest,refreshing breath of fresh air!! I found this very encouraging, as we live in a shallow world obsessed with this idea of false perfection! So thank-you for this!!!

Lisa said...

Yes THIS is truly beautiful. This meant something to me. Thank you.