I am infinitely more at ease with the way I look in my forties compared with my teens, twenties or thirties. I have heard women complain that they feel invisible as they age, but maybe I felt too visible when I was younger. Or visible for the wrong reasons. I was judged on what I looked like, not what I did or said or created.
The pressure to conform to a narrow definition of beauty has most definitely been thrown off. High heels, push-up bras, waxing – what was I thinking? Far better to work with what nature intended and celebrate the shape we were given. This lived-in body does rather a good job of holding me up and moving my muscles. My frown-lines and laughter-lines do an excellent job in supporting my mouth to express my genuine thoughts and feelings. I am me.
As the tulips have been going over, I can’t help reflecting on the changes I see in them from youth to maturity and ripe old age. It’s about time we celebrate the aging process.
(You may have seen my previous post Unripe Tulips. You can see some of the tulips below in their first flush of youth, all fresh-faced and naive, and perhaps a little green. You can also see them looking radiant in On this day a year ago… and Opening to the Sun!).
Here is ‘Ballerina’. She has thickened around the middle (who hasn’t?) and looks a little rumpled, but the magenta striations have given her a warmth and a depth, and are endlessly fascinating. Those lines tell you she has a story to tell. She is a survivor. She has felt the heat, been lashed by wind and rain, been out in the cold and dark. She has opened to the sun. And here she is, still standing. A wise and proud woman.
I’m not sure which variety this one is, as it was a lucky inheritance. I utterly love the streaks of silver, like shot-silk. Helped along by beautiful posture. She oozes confidence.
This next one is also inherited. Between you and me, this tulip was a bit awkward in her youth. She wore too much makeup and had a predilection for fluorescence. All the time this flim-flam was masking true grit. Do you see the steely determination in her metallic sheen? She no longer needs to shout. She can hold her own in a serious debate. She merely curls her lip if you offend her.
Tulips work together better as they get older. They realise that there is strength in number, and in diversity. Whatever colour, shape or size, we all have the same basic inner workings. We can intermingle. Contrast brings definition. We glow from one anothers’ flames.
Our friends will always stand by us. We like one another all the more for our little flaws and imperfections. We laugh at ourselves, and each other, and sometimes we snort a bit.
It is good to be outward-looking, not to become too insular, or pot-bound. There are always new directions of travel. We are endlessly curious.
Sometimes, when tulips get really old, they no longer give a fig for appearances. Some might even run naked.
For others, this is metaphorical: a stripping away of all that is pretentious, or false, or unnecessary. The true essence of who we are will remain, to flare up and light the way for future generations. Did you ever notice that a tulip has such deep tones of purple and grey and turquoise? No? Look again. See the gold and green lobes at the tip of the stigma? The radiating anthers? They were there all along, you just didn’t notice. Because you were distracted by the surface stuff.
Aging beauty has the power to astonish. It deserves our respect.
How about you? Do you embrace experience, wisdom and wrinkles? Or are you still finding your feet on your wobbly Bambi legs? Do you have a favourite flower for aging beauty?