On Turning 50
I'm turning 50. That's half of a century! Can you imagine? For some reason I feel like this is a momentous accomplishment on my part. But when I look back I can see I have always been fascinated by the things we call "old".
I remember being ten... an awkward shy girl who read a lot and daydreamed her way through time. I came out of my introspective reveries one day long enough to notice my mother in a state of great excitement. Seems she had inherited a beautiful oak side board from her mother-in-law. After much laborious grunting on the part of two sweaty movers this wooden leviathan assumed a place of honor (in it's huge hulking way) in our dining room. It seemed to be quite the big deal that I of course, being ten, didn't grasp. So I asked, my radiantly happy mother "What's so great about it?"
My dear mother, oblivious to the naive density of her fledgling, exclaimed " Why this is 50 years old." This was said in the most reverential of tones while running her hands over the smooth patina of well rubbed and oiled wood. To that younger me it seemed like her version of MY excitement when I had found an arrowhead the summer before. With a shiver I had curled my fingers tightly, feeling the cold smooth center and rough edges of the arrowhead as it pressed its outline against my palm. I remembered standing there spellbound at the thought that some long ago person had shaped and used it as a tool, with their own two hands. Now, somehow, in the churning tempest that is the earth, the long buried arrowhead had found its way to me, to be held once again. I wondered about that long ago person. Lost to the shrouds of the past, but still having once existed, with no less validity than my own existence in that moment. The proof of this profound truth rested solidly in my closed fist. Recalling the solemn awe of that moment, I found myself running my hands over this beautiful wooden object my mother was so entranced with. Imitating and understanding her sense of reverence.
Over the years that have passed since that day, I have observed with interest the excitement that a 56 Chevy can elicit from a group of men. How far people will travel to view the architectural detail found in the splendor of the ruins of ancient Rome. Or how hard the normally unfazed New Yorker will fight to save an old building. Not to mention the highly esteemed culinary intricacies involved in the making of fine wines and gourmet cheeses. Recipes of which have been highly guarded and handed down for centuries. And then there are the treasures of nature, which cannot be hurried, diamonds, amber, silk and pearls. It has slowly seeped into my consciousness that all these things we collectively deem valuable, share one common element. That element is time.They take time.They improve with age.
In beauty, in substance, in value.
The woman of 50 is a defined woman. For better or worse she is no longer that fresh newborn malleable lump of clay that we all begin life as.The potential of youth has been bartered for the richness of life. As the moments tick on, her experiences, combined with her thoughts and feelings, have taken turns guiding, shaping and molding her. Life has focused her, much in the way a lens does a camera. Everything about her becomes more clear. Revealed in the shining light of time. Her joys her passions her loves and hardships, it's all there.
Her hands reveal what they have spent the years doing. Whether creating works of art or stroking the heads of babies. Working in an office, or close to the earth under a relentless sun, the hands speak of what they know.
Her feet too, say so much. Beautiful and well cared for, or gnarled by ill fitting shoes and long hours of standing. They bear silent testimony to having been shaped by the steps her own personal path has taken.
But the greatest story teller of a woman's life is in her face.
The joy, the sorrow, the contentment or lack of, on display for anyone who chooses to observe. Whispered in the gentle crinkles that frame eyes filled with frequent laughter. Or suggested in the soft wreath of smile lines that trace across luminous cheeks. Sometimes, the story is told in thinly drawn lips that have spent years pressed tightly in disapproval, judgment of others, the corrosive acid of bitterness doing its handiwork.
Regardless, its all there.
An exclusive story for each and every woman. We sculpt our own personal look by what we think, by what we feel, and by how we react to all that happens along our journey. How true then the saying that when we are born we have the face God gave us, and when were old we have the face we've earned. The woman who has lived for half of a century is possessed of a sage-ness that is strikingly observable to others. It as identifying as a fingerprint, as unique as a snowflake as solid as an arrowhead.
While a younger woman may dream of finding her "other half"? The woman of 50 is serene in the knowledge that she need seek no other half. Rather, she emanates the completeness she has attained with a beauty that is all its own. She is a survivor, she is wise and she is humorous. She has a story to tell, born out of a sophisticated wisdom that is now hers. She has an authenticity that cannot be faked, rushed or purchased, but rather, develops gently under the sculpting hand of time.
When a woman turns 50