“I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was
to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”
― Anne Lamott
We live in a world where the entire second half of our life is preoccupied with trying our damnedest to hold onto the package as it was in the first half. Every extra pound gets scrutinized and ridiculed. Every bubble of cellulite, every wrinkle and sag, every gray hair or thinning scalp, every unexplained spot that suddenly appears, every droop of the eyelid becomes the obsessed fixation. Because what we value are the vibrant eyes that tame the fiercest beast with their gaze. The lean, muscular body that can accomplish amazing feats. The breasts that defy gravity. The dark, full mane of hair that, for some purely random reason, defines us. We spin every desperate wheel to maintain (or worse yet, regain if we happen to dare let ourselves lose it) our youthful meaning. We spin those desperate wheels, which is fairly time-consuming and energy-consuming, when we could be gazing at constellations, learning a second language, traveling abroad, going back to school, getting involved in humanitarian efforts, basking in the hammock with a mountain of great books. We spend our latter years spinning instead of enjoying, instead of embracing the ancient wisdoms that we were too distracted and high-strung and immature to grasp in youth, like “expect nothing, appreciate everything” or “there is only now.”
Why can’t we do both? … you may ask … Live rich lives and obsess over aging? Go ahead. Try it. They are diametrically opposed to each other. Not only is the preoccupation with maintaining and regaining all-consuming, but it is all-consuming meaninglessness. And the guilt that appears when we fail anyway (we’re all going to die) is corrosive. So between the guilt and the sweat, desperately trying to fend off death, desperately trying to remain relevant to those who worship the package only, eats up every bit of the joy and peace that our higher selves spent so much effort in our youth trying to attain through our spiritual pursuits. Remember when yoga was about breath-seeking salvation, and not so much about that impressive gravity-defying forearm-stand scorpion pose?
What has happened to you? Aren’t you supposed to get wiser as you’ve gotten wizened? Why are your cupboards filled with creams for younger skin, and hair dyes, and diet books, and little pills meant to do magical things? Why have you lost your zest for life because it was once filled with the meaning to contribute, and to express, and to minister, and now, in a fit of desperation to say “I’m still here!” it is preoccupied with the need to go viral and get re-Tweeted? Why are you considering what tattoos you’ll get to mask the scars on your torso from the surgery you had, to remove your kidney in order to save someone’s life? Why are these awesome scars so distasteful that they need covering up? Because our society only praises the centerfold template? And you have allowed them to shame you? Is that why you have conveniently created this spin that the surgery scars are going to be celebrated with a cute little tattooed symbol on top of each one? When each one is already the magnificent symbol? And for that matter, why isn’t every scar that our bodies have ever created, from that knee scrape in childhood, to the ravages of childbirth, celebrated instead of drowned in unguents and miracle creams? Every one of those scars is a testament to living, the map of an extraordinary life, a life not spent indoors hiding safely behind the curtain of fear and hyperbaric chambers, but boldly taking on the world, amassing the nicks and scrapes that come from playing fiercely and loving wildly.
Why, why, why is your life so filled with the perpetual fog of projection, lamentation, and woolgathering, that there is no room for the breathtaking moments? Is your lame excuse that this cruel world only reveres the young? Renders anyone who isn’t, invisible? Well, it’s true. And so what. The world is not fair, or kind, or wise, or mature, or evolved, or on a higher plane. And you’re a slave to that, why? Because you won’t be looked at? Regarded? Considered relevant if the seams dare to loosen and give way to proud season? Season should be proud. Season should be strutting its beak with the years of brilliant hindsight and quicker foresight. Season should be worshiped. And when it isn’t ― and it won’t, not in this culture ― be proud anyway. Proud to carry the work of your ancestors. Proud to seek the quiet where gardens grow and healing has a chance in hell. Proud to express uniquely, and not care about pie charts and hit stats.
Be forthright in staking your place in the constellations. Be the artist you were born to be. Tell your truth. Be a castaway, a fugitive from the mundanity of conformity. Be a brazen vagrant. Be a little crazy. Or a lot crazy. Talk to yourself too much because you have so much to express, and not always an adoring audience waiting with bated breath. The audience may never come. Say it anyway. Wear your clothes inside out. Clash a paisley blouse with a striped pant, and do it loudly. Be not afraid of THAT WORD that means you were blessed with not dying young, in spite of this society that hands down a sentence for the crime of having the nerve to get older. Old, old, OLD. There I said it. Who cares about a good-looking corpse? Jiggle, and creak, and eat pie, and celebrate. The world is not kind. So what. YOU are. Be what the world cannot be. Raise your own barre. Leave everyone else’s alone.
Take joyous asylum in being the splat of garish color in the otherwise quaint pastel. Others like you will gather, and you will find each other. Others like you will make a stir, trouble the waters, shift the plates. More and more splats will appear until the lot of you are a mad Pollock. And as you link arms, the net created by all you half-batty, brazen souls will stand the test of time, will strengthen with numbers, will cradle the audacious in its embrace, and dampen the ridiculous clangs of the drones and clones until there is only the song. And you will sing that song, the choir of you, the throng of you rapturous spirits who did not cave to the world’s random and rude criteria for relevancy.
“Dance like there’s nobody watching” (W. Purkey) . . . But not like someone is shooting at your feet.
Angela Carole Brown is a published author, a recipient of the Heritage Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums as a singer/songwriter, and a yoga/mindfulness CD. Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog. Follow her on INSTAGRAM & YOUTUBE.