By way of a coda to my recent post on fear of aging, I happened to catch that American Express commercial with designer Diane Von Furstenberg last night, and thought to myself, now there is a vision of mature beauty. I went googling around to see what she might be like on the inside, and found this interview.
Scanning down the page, my eyes lit on this:
At 40, you can no longer just count on your beauty or on your seduction power…it is time to become a myth...meaning, stand for something...
A friend of mine who is writing a book on life stages says that aging is the shift to a state that transcends personal ego, in which you come to "belong to the ages."
To me, the above photo says the same thing. I'm drawn to self-portraiture for all the reasons I love writing memoir. It's an attempt at clarity, an opportunity to stand apart and see where I really am. When I made this photo earlier this summer, I couldn't put into words what was going on with me; I don't think I knew, and honestly, I'm not sure I can articulate it now. But this image captures it. I'll spare you the all the lazy, florid metaphors about flowering womanhood and blazing emotion. Suffice it to say my focus is shifting, the way I see myself is changing, and a 38-year-old body turns out to be an inadequate container for all that life keeps pouring into it.
I think it's a picture of my life beginning to spill over.
When I decided to run toward, instead of away, from my writing, I set out purposefully to find examples of writers (and other artists) who ran counter to the negative stereotypes of a life in the arts. Once I started looking, they were everywhere. We become what we believe.
So I'm building a new belief about what it means to age, training my eye to pass over the negative stereotypes and focus on the people who defy them, inside and out.
I've always loved collage for that kind of re-imagining: going through a stack of magazines with a pair of scissors or sometimes just tearing pages with my hands, literally deconstructing the visual creed of popular culture and reassembling it. It's a trick I learned from the Artist's Way, and it packs some mighty mojo.
If I had an afternoon and a stack of magazines, I'd collage myself a new map for growing older and prop it up on my dresser. I don't have that luxury at the moment or anywhere in the near future. I've got three boys to outfit for school on Monday, and some big writing deadlines looming. I shouldn't even be here in my "create post" window.
But I've been holding that little scrap of wisdom from Von Furstenberg since last night, and I had to glue it down somewhere. That photo and my friend's observation seem to go with it. Help me out with the rest. Bring your own quote, image, person, song or story that represents an alternate vision of growing oldergrowing more and glue it down it the comments section. It doesn't have to make sense, it only needs to speak to you. Let's re-imagine this thing together.
Labels: soul and spirit