Monday, October 24, 2005

Getting old

OK, so 51 is not technically old. Neither is 35, but our son-in-law made a big point at his birthday party last night that he is now half of 70.

Every time we celebrate a birthday in the family, even if it's not mine, I'm still reminded of the passage of time. We have the "kids" (now adults) and their spouses over, with 2-year-old Caroline, and everybody has a great time. Then after they leave, Ed spends the next day in a pensive mood, reminiscing on how he misses the kids being young, where did the time go, etc.

I'm especially reminded of getting older when I see myself in a photograph. Normally I am the photographer in the family, which gives me freedom to avoid being in the picture. Then I remember how my dad was hardly ever in a picture because he was always the photographer, so I make an effort to have someone take a picture of me once in awhile. And, of course, to upload a picture to this site, as well as to MT sites I frequent, means I have to get a decent head shot. It takes me - I am not exaggerating - about 50 takes before I find a picture of myself I can live with. It got so bad that Ed, who used to do the honors at my request, refuses now to take my head shot, because after he took 4 or 5, I would find fault with them and ask him to take more. So I have to do it myself, holding the camera at what I estimate is the correct angle, and snap away. Over and over. Fortunately, I have a digital camera. I would hate to have taken a whole roll of film to find out an hour later when I picked up the prints at the store that I hated every photo. Now I just hate every photo digitally - it's much cheaper.

Why do I hate every photo? Because I'm old and it shocks me. When did that happen? Unlike some folks, it didn't bother me when I turned 40 or 50. It didn't bother me when the kids got married. It didn't bother me when I became a grandmother. But it bothers me when I see myself in a photograph. Every imperfection is there in full blazing color. Thank goodness for the "delete" key. Delete, delete, delete. Maybe? if I squint a little?....nah. Delete.

Reader's Digest, in their section Life in These United States, had an entry which hit home for me this week:

Fortunately, my husband found a fix for his midlife crisis: a new job. Unfortunately, it was in another state, which meant selling a house where we'd had eight happy years. Getting ready for bed one evening before the move, I said sadly, "I pictured us growing old together here." As he kissed me goodnight, he replied, "We did."


Sylver said...

:) I know how you feel. I just turned 42, and I have stopped counting my wrinkles.

I am trying to see them as a roadmap of my life (as I once read in a story), but they are just what they are, wrinkles, big wrinkles.

by the way, I am a newbie to your blog, found it on bloglines :)

Tif said...

As much as I dislike seeing wrinkles on my face and the gray in my hair, I must admit that they are an improvement on some of my teenaged photos. I found one the other day, taken in a black and white photo booth, where I looked like a fat Princess Leia on steroids with pointy glasses! (Apologies to Chris.) I guess it's all a matter of degree. If you're comparing yourself to something that ugly, you come out smelling like a rose! I'll have to scan it and send it to you. Then again, maybe not . . . I wouldn't want to see it again on my 50th birthday card :-)

Rod said...

Growing old? The only part of that phrase I'll give credence to is growing. In the only time there is, NOW, nothing is old, everything is ALWAYS NEW. We feel ourselves becoming old because we refuse to "gracefully surrender the things of youth", we cling to the memory of what we used to be and are afraid of what we may become. "Life is it differs from the rocks" or so said Grace Slick. Even the beauty of a marble statue changes with time. Do we want to be cast in stone? I look at your photo and see a radiantly healthy being, taking the journey of existence through this phase of expression of Life at the point of your being. That to me is beauty, that is the forever new, that is the one changeless thing, change. Have you ever seen a giant redwood tree? (If you have, I'm envious,; I've only seen pictures). One could say they are veerrryyy old but each day of their growth season they put out new buds or stretch out their new branches. And there you will see wrinkles so deep in a livingness that started as a smooth, tender sprout. Change is new, not old. Old is....a judgement, plain and simple!

Tif said...

Love your new photo!