I’ve been thinking about this for a while. This past year has brought about such big changes in my personal life that it seems appropriate to make plans for the next year in a way it hasn’t seemed so pressing before. It also feels time to reflect on my journey so far and to decide, as far as possible, on the route I want to take through the remaining third of my life.
I am now 63. What does this mean? Does it mean a retirement from posting blog posts that mention sex and bodies and enjoyment? Does it mean I can no longer take pictures of my body that reveal its erotic charge? Does it mean an end to eye? An end to this brief, yet shining part of my life when I felt connected to my selfhood, my desire and my beauty in a way I hadn’t before? eye openly sought pleasure, her own pleasure no less, even after a lifetime of being taught that this somehow, took something from someone else. And when, having found pleasure I discovered that it came with a requirement for honesty, courtesy and confidence that enhanced my life immeasurably I discovered that pleasure enabled me to mature emotionally so that my relationships became healthier. I will not give that up now just because I am 63.
I vow to continue to place pleasure as a valid path to growth even when pursued by a 63 woman, and to support those who come after me to do so too
Age is taboo in matters erotic. A regular insult for being outwardly sexual in my posts is that I am too old to do this and my involvement is distasteful and offensive. Maturity isn’t an advantage here, it is a devaluation of my worth in a sphere where youth gain points simply for just being what it is, a point in your life you could not change even if you wanted to.
At some point in my life I learnt that women’s attractiveness was a competition we were all enrolled in from birth. Those of us who remember Bo Derek in Ten will also have understood immediately what number we would probably have been given and also that once past an arbitrary age our number would decline until we reached the ‘still would’ position, a compliment with an insult within like the unwelcome chocolate powder in the middle of a chocolate eclair sweet.
I admit I am a work in progress here, society’s version of beauty is still deep rooted in me but I find as I get older I am able to see the beauty in older people, the way their eyes shine out from wrinkles that convey the enjoyment of life that has sculpted their faces is entrancing. There is a lot to be gained from looking for that.
I vow to actively look for beauty in age and any body, including my own, and to work not to measure my attractiveness against anyone else
The world continues to change (who knew it would?) and some of the old certainties that I built my life on have shifted under my feet. I am speaking here of my feminism, my understanding of patriarchy and women’s rights. My desire for equality, in financial matters, in opportunity, and in every aspect of society. My belief in the importance of protest, the continuing fight to forge alliance and understanding with those from backgrounds not of my own. My understanding that mothering and wifedom were the central planks of my life and without them I was worth less.
This last has been proven to be both true and false. What is also true, I find, is that I don’t need my now adult children to agree with me about whether I was a good mother in order to know that I was. I know I did my best, I know I could have done better, I also know that not being perfect is not a hanging offence and nor does it make me a bad mother.
I now understand that there will always be people with whom I do not gel and who feel likewise about me. There will also always be those who are neutral, neither fan nor enemy. The final third are my tribe and I theirs. We get each other, and find pleasure and enjoyment in each other’s company, and those are the people whose opinions about me matter to me. In the end what other people think of me is none of my business.
I vow to continue to work to extend my understanding of this changing world, whilst holding on to those things that I believe are still of value, not just to me, but to us all
Too often I can espouse the ‘be kind’ mantra so popular on social media, often with the unspoken but heard in my own head, caveat ‘but not you because …’ and then begins the list of faults or opinions or actions that allow me the freedom to not have to be kind at all but to exercise those worse parts of my character. My pettiness, my jealousy, my vindictiveness, my poverty of empathy, my sheer bloody mindedness, my grudge holder. Anger is a useful driver when well used, in my life I have discovered that kindness is a greater one however. A long time ago I read Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, one thing that sticks in my mind from this was her injunction to change your enemies every year as beyond that they were no longer useful as a force for change or insight but became habitual grudges that served no one.
I vow to continue to seek to let go of grudges and being critical of other people as far as possible, knowing that often I will fail but that sometimes I will win and those times will be worth the effort
Finally, I have spent most of my life living with other people’s feelings, needs, desires and wants being more important than my own. This part of my life belongs to me, I share it with my love but it is owned by me. I am responsible for my own happiness, my own journey, my own life. Owning that is the foundation of this life I live now.
I vow to inhabit the centre of my life and when, out of habit I move out of this space I will return to it as quickly as possible. I will also encourage those I love to do the same
I started the piece of writing thinking I was going to make a list of places I wanted to visit and experiences I wanted to have. I guess that will have to wait for another post as this is what came out of the ends of my fingers. Having written it I have a sense of how far I have come in the last seven years and how quickly they have flown. I am happy, I am loved, I cry when I am sad and I can ask for what I want when I know what it is.
That’s real progress.