old enough – no more
annoyance boredom pursuit
of a longer life
Somewhere in the canon of Jim Harrison, the one time sage of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wrote something along the lines of go ahead and eat the fat and take a walk afterward.
This is the same guy who advised taking a long walk before a meal to build up an a proper appetite.
How long is a long life?
Dr. Henry (Indiana) Jones said that it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.
To write this out, I have to admit that I clicked on the article titled, “Fab abs, Nicole Kidman. But this frantic effort to look half your age is frankly demeaning” by Yvonne Roberts in the Guardian.
Ms. Roberts takes the point of the view that we should act and look and embrace our age.
As this is an opinion I espouse, I enjoyed the article very much.
Back in high school in a class called ‘Advanced Photo and Filmmaking’ (We practised black and white darkroom technique and used Kodak Super 8mm cameras – you know, cutting edge technology) we watched a documentary (16mm movie) on the life of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Unlike Ansel Adams who felt exposing an image was just the start to what would happen in the darkroom, Mr. Cartier-Bresson felt that once you clicked that shutter, the decisive moment, your work was done. The rest was up to technicians.
In the film, Mr. Cartier-Bresson told the story of photographing a very old Grand-Dame of society for Vogue, who asked him to, please, not make her look old in his pictures.
The film then cycled slowly through several black and white images of a beautiful, dignified, evidently charming tho still, very old woman.
The narration had gone silent and then on the last image, the lady, white haired with stunning eyes and a beautiful smile entirely wreathed with wrinkles, Mr. Cartier-Bresson said something along the lines of ‘I think … when you get old, you get the face you deserve.’
That line has stayed with me and has pretty much summed up my thought on growing old and my role in it.
I gave Ms. Robert’s article a fast read but I really liked that last paragraph.
Relentless introspection (as opposed to the insurrection required to challenge life’s inequalities) and an obsession with what has been lost, instead of contemplating the gains that come with age, stops us feeling at ease with the process of becoming ourselves, however flawed and creased. In Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control, the author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich refreshingly writes: “Once I realised I was old enough to die, I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life.”
I will go to the beach and I will sit in the sun and read.
If I feel like I may bring along a cigar.
I may or may not go for a walk.
I may or may not go for a swim (with the sharks.)
I will contemplate the gains that come with age.
I will be at at ease with the process of becoming myself, however flawed and creased.
I am old enough to die.
I am also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life.