Today is Susannah Conway’s 41st birthday. She’s a friend. She’s a creative soul. And she asked fellow friends and bloggers to help her celebrate growing older by writing on the truth about getting older.
Update 2/20/14 – You can now download the collected posts that celebrate aging. It’s a beautiful eBook.
I’m a bit older than Susannah. I’ve been here on this earth for 57 eventful years…and they have been EVENTFUL. But life is, is it not? Life is full of events we have no idea will take place before they happen. It’s a mystery. The whole beautiful, frightening, glorious thing is a complete mystery.
I pondered what to write about since Susannah first asked. I realized I could write about how…
… grateful I am to be alive after my beloved husband died so young, never to walk his daughters down the aisle, and never to hold his grandchildren. I could because it is incredibly true for me. Each year as I turn a year older, the first thing that comes to mind is this – how grateful I am for another year.
… lovely it is to grow older, that beauty awaits at every turn. I could because it does. Growing older has helped me redefine beauty, because the traditional definition, glaringly short-sighted, would have us believe beauty makes a fast getaway as we age. It doesn’t. Rather, I’ve found that the ageless heart begins to make itself known and speaks of beauty in an eternal tongue.
… we are each so damn lucky to be here, to be walking on this earth, to be given life, not only once at birth, but with every breath. I could because we are.
… our bodies age into luminescence, into a kind of translucency that begins to reveal our true nature: Light, wisdom, agelessness from behind the veil. I don’t really know what it is about the aging process that brings translucency, but it does. I do know that I feel more revealed, more humbled, and less like I am pushing against and more like I am moving with. The body grows old and wrinkles. The skin thins, as does the hair, but the eyes glow and the silence within grows. There’s less and less color and vibrancy on the outside – hair, skin, energy – yet more and more light on the inside and all around…if we let ourselves be revealed.
All of these are true. As I grow older, more and more each day I feel a sense of deep gratitude for this experience. A full and rich sense of gratitude that I get to be here, to come to know the sacred by living in this female body, this beautiful, aging, wrinkling, joyful, erotic body.
This wild passionate sensual life is just that – erotic. Sprouting. Leafing. Blooming. Fruiting. We are tender tiny shoots who are growing into wise old beings with full blooms and fully-globed fruitflesh hanging from every branch.
Yes, there are days when the joints hurt. Yes, the hair turns gray (and we can choose whether or not to let the gray show without having to feel like it’s some moral dilemma). Yes, the closer we get to death the more we face our mortality. But none of these things have to take away from the opportunity we have to reclaim our erotic nature for the life-giving force that it is, to live life in the female body with passion and desire, with a fully blossomed sensuality and sexuality that opens to everything out of love.
We are erotic creatures, just like the rest of Nature. Every thing dies, but before life dies it is ALIVE without questioning what is happening to it. When we open to everything because the love within is SO alive and fragrant, we live the fullness of the seed from which we came.
THIS is the work we women, especially we who are so blessed, privileged, educated, and aware, get to, and must, do. As Anne Baring writes,
“Each woman who gives birth to herself and responds to what life is asking her to accomplish, contributes to the survival of our species and the diminishment of human suffering.”
I’ve found that while my mind has tried to figure out how I can ‘help’ the world, my body simply wants to love what it loves, and my soul longs to sing the song only she can sing. My body still loves what it loves, wrinkles and all.
As women, living our erotic, sexual, wild nature brings something back into the world that has long been missing. How could we women live our joy when we believed there was something deeply wrong, flawed, and perhaps even ‘sinful’ about our nature? What has it cost us as a species to forget that life itself is an erotic, joyful, sensual mystery?
Joy, eros, fragrance, passion bring forth life in ourselves and in the world. At the core of our female bodies is a deep seated love of pleasure. I’ve found when my body is joyful and knows pleasure, my creativity shoots out of me like sprouts out of the soil, reaching for the light, impulsed by the erotic goddess.
So what if not nearly as many find me ‘attractive’? So what? It’s damn freeing, I’ve found. Damn freeing to not try to be living up to that attractiveness scale. I can’t possibly live up to it – not using that scale. But when I sense myself as a fully alive, sensual, sexual creature? I feel the attraction impulses firing within my own being, protons and neutrons held together by the strong force, neurons firing away.
How much more alive might you be? Might we be? Can we women be?
Happy Birthday, Susannah!
May we give birth to our sacred, alive, erotic nature and live what life is asking of us.