Well. I have had a challenging three months. And things will continue intensifying through the beginning of June. Read on only if you can stomach my self-absorption...
Not just food treats, either. It’s proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated.
The local food movement has been big out here long before it really became a thing—which shouldn’t be surprising, since this region has a lot of agriculture and a fairly long growing season (and a lot of hippie types of all ages). Newly ensconced in one of the oldest sections of town one year ago this month, we were very happy to see that several homeowners nearby had converted their boring lawns into prime gardening spaces. A few have really invested in their urban gardening, constructing attractive raised beds and filling the area around them with warmth-hoarding rock.
And I have a mission for 2013.
I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned it here previously, but two years ago the snolfs and I started celebrating the winter solstice. Since I’m not a Christian, it seemed silly to celebrate Christmas, and to me personally New Year’s Eve is nothing special, since it’s simply a marker of time on one of many arbitrary calendars. I turned to my Scandinavian heritage and—not surprisingly at all—discovered that the winter solstice was a very important occasion for my ancestors. That made the decision to celebrate it very easy; but it hasn’t been until this year that we’ve been fully free to create our own celebration.
Yow. Another large block of time away from here—completely unintended, yet utterly unavoidable.
I should have known that years of hearing “I pay the bills, so what I want goes” would have some effect on the snolfs and me—and perhaps I did, but only now that I’ve been clear of that environment can I fully appreciate the effect it had on us.
And I am long overdue in acknowledging three stalwart gentlemen whose shoulders have helped carry me further than my grownup self sometimes thought I could go.
Long past time, actually, but all who venture here know that. All who’ve ventured here over the years also know that the drumbeat I’ve marched to most consistently has been that of personal liberty, as contrasted to economic and political freedom, although as I recently observed, they cannot always be neatly categorized.
When I first got online and began exploring pro-freedom sites, I was very fortunate—I somehow came across Greg Swann. His ideas and the words he chose to convey them were oxygen to a sputtering spark inside me. If I have helped anyone understand the importance of individual liberty, if my words have helped bring eudaimonia to another’s way of being, then he deserves credit as well.
Today—not at all coincidentally—Greg has released a new book, Man Alive! It is short, it is available in its entirety at that link, and it is another heady hit of oxygen.
I have much more to say about the book and how it has affected me already, but that can all wait. For now, I want to thank Greg for—yet again—creating and sharing something that has resonated with the very fiber of my being... and again, at an enormously critical juncture for me.
Please, go read Man Alive! It truly is that important. I welcome any comments, questions, and/or observations you care to make in response.
Not unexpectedly, reverberations from my new circumstances are making themselves known. However, some of the impulses I’ve had are a bit surprising to me ... and I’m not sure how much weight to give them. As one of the major areas of uncertainty centers on this place, I thought it wise to share some of my thoughts with the three visitors who’ve hung on here.
I find it extremely interesting that two of my dearest friends—neither of whom are going through an upheaval similar to mine—recently wrote me, musing about the intricacies of the different types of freedom. In reading their words, I realized that a choice I made a few years ago has created challenges for me today.
Meteorological spring also brought another spring to my life this year ... one that was very slow in arriving but has already proved well worth creating.
I didn’t mean to be absent from here for so long, but I’ve been busier than usual. Most of you would be quite surprised to learn what’s taken up a large chunk of my time of late.
[Originally published April 2005]
I have never been concerned with my age, or aging in particular. Like my approach to race and sex, my approach to a person’s age—including my own—has always been: “You are what you are and you can’t (easily) change that”. Even so, as the silvery strands populate my crown more thickly, I can’t deny that I have been thinking more about the effects of the years—and miles—upon myself.
The impetus for this introspection has been the recurring topic of growing older in an email conversation with a very good friend. Being of like minds, it’s been mostly a positive exchange. I think we’ve helped each other with what might otherwise have been some rough spots, since it’s hard to completely ignore a culture that seems perpetually enamored with youth and firm, lithe bodies. When she mentioned that an acquaintance of hers recently celebrated her 50th birthday by throwing a “crone party”, the idea resonated with me very strongly. Why not celebrate an important, and potentially rich time of life—and the achievement of getting there?
I remember my grandmother calling the lines at the corners of her eyes “crow’s feet” when I was a youngster. The term horrified me, then and now. To me, the lines weren’t ugly; they were the sign of a face that had smiled and laughed much, enjoying the sun and wind and weather. I see the beginnings of them at the corners of my eyes, and instead of feeling a sinking dread, I welcome them. They’re reminders that I, too, have enjoyed much in my life thus far.
Similarly, my once-flat lower abdomen now curves a bit, a testament to my body's production of two children. As I enjoyed being pregnant very much, and enjoy my children, that new curve is a mostly pleasant reminder of two very special times in my life. To use a Heinleinian phrase, my baby-chewed breasts are softer now, but I wouldn’t trade their previous firmness for the many hours with a baby in my arms, gazing into his or her eyes as my body nourished theirs.
These days I’m moderately fit, instead of the very fit person I used to be—also something I refuse to feel guilty about (most of the time—again, those messages are hard to totally ignore). My life is so full that devoting the time it would take to maintain the body I once had is not a choice I want to make. I want to play with my children, who can’t hike, rock climb, or ski (yet); I want to savor the time spent reading a good book; I want to exercise because it feels good to feel my body stretching and moving, not because I have to maintain buns of steel.
I also refuse to count calories, or fat grams, or any such silliness, even though my body seems more likely to want to store excess than it has before. I’d much rather enjoy a decadent chocolate cake, a glass of red wine, and good conversation with beloved friends, and be a little wider in the behind for it, than be obsessed about thunder thighs and the Atkins diet, and be skinny and alone night after night.
I hope that I’ll be around to savor the intense spark of life in a grandchild. My mother railed against this sign of aging more than any other, and I’ve never understood that. What could be a more precious affirmation of life than creating new life—passing a bit of your spark into the future?
When I see a woman with stunning silver hair, I find myself hoping that when I’m completely grey, my hair is as gorgeous as hers. If not, I may just color it—something I’ve never even contemplated before—as a celebration of cronedom and the unique beauties it offers. I certainly will not cut it almost completely off, then curl, comb, tease, puff, or permanent the remnants, until I startle at my own appearance in the mirror every morning. My mane will remain long and flowing for as long as I’m able to care for it, or have someone willing to do so—and when someone isn’t, then it’s time for me to go.
My underwear—and nightwear, when I choose to wear it—will continue to come from Victoria’s Secret or similar place, even though I never have and never will look like their models. Must one be under 35 to appreciate the glissando of silk on one’s skin? Or even better, the caress of satin under an appreciative lover’s hand? Both feel better now for having slept in some of the interesting situations I’ve found myself in over the years.
In short, as I progress into another phase of life, I fully intend to drink fully of its offerings, learn as much as I can from both its pleasures and its pains, and do things the way I want, rather than the way “little old ladies” are expected to. That’s the way I have always been. Why should I stop when I become a crone?
It’s been said before that I’m a mutant. Maybe I am. But I see no value in denying what one is—who one is—for the sake of fitting in with a culture that is in many ways profoundly unhealthy. To me, becoming a crone is an important milestone, one well worth celebrating.
I think I’ll begin planning my crone party.