Compliments produce feelings of self-conscious bashfulness in me. I tuck them away as mental keepsakes, and then quickly move on. Still, it is always a pleasure to find that you have been, in some manner, an inspiration to another person.
A couple of days ago, I discovered that a brand new blogger has made Time Goes By his first link to another blog with this explanation:
“The person who inspired me to take up blogging is a woman named Ronni Bennett, a former television producer who lives in Greenwich Village and writes a daily blog called Time Goes By. As the title would indicate, much of her writing is devoted to reflections on growing older, ageism, and the way our society treats its older citizens.
"She has also written a series of articles on the Social Security privatization issue that is as thoughtful and reasoned as you are likely to find in any American newspaper or journal. I recommend it to anyone who is at all concerned about this issue.”
- - Deejay, Small Beer, 25 April 2005
After that, there is no way to move on without reading the blog.
Deejay is a retired, 65-year-old sports fan, freelance writer and translator who is fluent in Chinese and the author of a book on Chinese film. Impressive, but what prompted today’s post is this short statement in his personal profile, about a new haircut:
“I’ve become more interested in ease and comfort than in appearance.”
Yes! Ease and comfort are among the defining conditions of the transition from adulthood to elderhood, and manifest themselves in dozens of small ways: It is why God invented elastic. It is the reason my hair is now almost grown out into its grayness. It is the cause of my giving up high-heeled shoes (as tempting as they are in their glorious, gorgeous, sexy beauty lined up in shop windows). And it is why I’m now fat.
It is a relief to let go of the constraints imposed, in my case, by the age and beauty police who so influenced my adolescence and adulthood. But it is a mark too of internal change as we begin to enter elderhood.
In relaxing our adult rules as to appearance, we gradually allow the ego to recede from center stage as prescribed in Carl Jung’s seven tasks of aging. Betty Friedan discusses Jung’s third task in her book, The Fountain of Age:
“Draw some conscious mental boundaries beyond which it is not reasonable to expend the remainder of one’s time and energy. ‘Some careers, relationships, desired achievements, even cherished goals must be abandoned with grace or pain.’ But this can also be an ‘unloading of self-imposed burdens and a deliverance from exhausting efforts toward unlikely goals…perhaps only half-wanted rewards.
“Consciously letting go of these burdens and aspirations lets one focus total attention and energy not only on what is attainable, but on what is one’s truest concern.’”
And so, in allowing more physical comfort and ease into our lives – that is, giving up the pretense of youth – we are better able to seek the meaning of our lives and become more our unique selves.
Funny how small external changes can create deeper inner reflection. A bow to deejay at Small Beer for reminding me.