Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Am Every Age I've Ever Been


A couple of weeks ago, I read a wonderful article by Catherine at Segullah. Her quote from Sandra Cisnero's short story, "Eleven," explains the premise of her thoughts, and they are well worth reading:

What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you are––underneath the year that makes you eleven.

"Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.

What better way to explain age and aging? My husband will be 60 in April, my son-in-law 35, my son 30, my sister 52, my brother-in-law a certain age (diplomacy is alive and well in this family), and my mother 83. Another son will turn 28 in May, right before I hit the magical milestone of 58. Birthdays are on my mind, and I am realizing more and more that I carry, catalogued within me, the indelible print of every year I've lived on the earth...a collection of selves that can be accessed at any time (for good or for ill) depending upon need, attitude, and circumstances. What an interesting reflection this is!

In gospel doctrine class the other day, our teacher asked someone to stand up who was 40. I nearly rose to my feet, because all I could think of was that I am 40, and 41, and 42...that I am, in fact, every age I've ever experienced...for I hold the essence of that age carefully in my heart and spirit. I hope I can remember to be as humble as my 1-year-old self, as playful as the 4-year-old version, as pure as the 8-year-old, as hopeful as the 12-year-old, as feisty as the 16-year-old, as enthused as the 20-year-old and so on. I hope I can forgive myself when I'm as willful as the 2-year-old or lazy as the 14-year-old. I want to be as wise as the 44-year-old, as patient as the 52-year-old, and as available to serve my family as the soon-to-be-58-year-old.

I'd like to reach back into my history and find all of the good that is there, because it occurs to me that, while I have gained wisdom with my years, every year along the way holds its own virtues and merits that were and are unique to that particular phase or stage of my life. I need to be sure that, as time passes, I don't lose sight of those lessons learned, feelings felt, or spiritual connections made just because the hours and days and years have moved me away from them.

I am, after all, every age that I have ever been. I am free to embrace and take hold of every moment of my life and put it to good use, past and present.

The way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one" (Sandra Cisnero, Eleven).

Thanks, Catherine, for helping me see the onion. And inspiring me to peel it...


and peel it again...

and again.

=)

15 comments:

Braden said...

That was a really great post. Very thoughtful and wise. Lots for me to think about.

karen said...

This would explain why we can happily join in a conversation with teenagers and not really get why they think we're so old. I loved this post! It also lets me know that I can choose what I want from all of my lifetime experiences to make me who I am right now. Wonderful thought! I'll need to choose carefully.

Robert Brault said...

Sue,
This one gets to me, and I especially like the image of the wooden dolls, one inside the other. There is no doubting the truth of this. We can always be again that very special person who passed briefly through our lives.

smiles,
rb

Jess said...

Sue- that was very deep and thought provoking, I had to read it twice, and so true but I never thought of it quite this way. Maybe that's why right now my 8 year old is channeling her 4 year old self- it's still in there and she just needs her mama for a while. I can only hope that she gets back to the responsible 8 year old age she really is

Lisalulu said...

THIS IS WONDERFUL.. great to think about and frankly explains a lot. I'll use it as my new excuse for acting young!

Amy said...

Awesome! The sad thing is I still eat like a 16 year old. But that idea is so beautiful.

KC Mom said...

Gosh, that's so true. I really feel that inside but never have described it. As I watch my girls growing older and making adult decisions and going to college...I sometimes think I'm that age...and I am. It's a very surreal feeling...and yet I think that timeless feeling must be very much what like eternity must be like.

jen said...

What a great way to describe aging. You are so wise, my friend. So wise!

VK said...

Hopefully I am usually the best I can be at any of the ages because I've matured and can let the bad parts go. Alas, I have much to learn.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Wow Sue, thanks for writing this! I've never looked at age that way before! Interesting, I love it!
Thank you.

Cherie said...

I love the onion analogy!
I agree that we are every age we have ever been - it just rings true. When I think about it there are sometimes when I do something - Like go to the New Moon premeire at midnight with a bunch of friends and I feel like I'm 20. But then there are days like today when a 26 year old girl wanted me to go to lunch with her so she could talk about how she was feeling about her marraige and being pregnant and shoot questions at me and then I felt my age of 45 - I felt wise and helpful and motherly.
I have always said age is just a number and it's all in how you feel inside and I guess that can be different every day of the week :D

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Wow. I love that idea--we are all the ages we have ever been. What a beautiful way to look at ourselves and at aging.

I like to think that I am my 4-year old self when I'm playing with my girls and realize I'm more into whatever we are doing than they are! He he he :))

Jill said...

I've never thought of it quite this way...but I think this illustrates why we should have respect for people older than ourselves, and why we should teach our children to also respect their elders. They have been there, done that.....until we have passed those ages (whatever ages are older than what we are) we really don't know what it's like..we really don't have the answers.

Darlene said...

I certainly never thought about age in this way. I kind of like thinking about my maybe being any age that I need to be whatever the circumstances. Yes, I like that very much. I love what Karen said about why we can feel so comfortable conversing with teen agers. I often have to stop short and remember just how old I really am because so often I feel so much younger. I love talking to young people and I can really relate, while on the other hand, I also feel perfectly comfortabale just talking with my contemporaries. I guess age is pretty relevant after all.

Fiauna said...

Another great post. Sometimes I feel three. Most days I feel somewhere between 13 and 34, though. Tears, for me, have been a part of every age.

Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved | Design by Custom Blog Designs/FreeStyleMama Creations