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A Woman's Journal

 

One of a series...

By Maggie Turner


January 27, 2000

One of a series...

I seem to have reached my present state of consciousness through a series of small epiphanies. However, these epiphanies seem small only in retrospect. At the time I experienced each one, it seemed as if the world began to turn on a new axis; with each, there was a profound and powerful reorientation of the self. I am sure that these epiphanies occurred at many stages in my life, and that I was aware of only some of them. Of those I remember, one of the first was the epiphany of trust, felt as I was held in my Grandmother's arms. Later came the epiphany of unrestrained love, felt towards my newborn brother as, for the first time, his fingers wrapped around and firmly held mine. Another epiphany came when, at the age of about four years, I realized some of the shallowness of social interactions, institutions, and conventions. There were many more to come over the years, some joyous, some disappointing.

I am having one such epiphany. As I have approached the end of my first fifty years on this planet, I have expected to experience fear, or at the very least sadness. What led me to expect these feelings is the cultural attitude towards aging and in particular, the aging of women.

Throughout my life, I was considered an attractive female. This meant that I was awarded special attentions from the opposite sex and the status of a player from sexually competitive females. My presence was acknowledged in public places. I did not realize, perhaps foolishly, at the time how much this depended on being young, female, and not bad looking. I started to notice a distinct difference in the way the world regarded me as I moved into my early forties. Still female and not bad looking, I have concluded that the element of youth was of some importance in the changes I observed.

As a result of the consistent nature of this change in the way I was treated in the world, I began to feel differently about myself. I felt invisible. I felt as if I had become something less. It was a difficult time, realizing and admitting my new status. The most difficult aspect to deal with was the relative worthlessness of what I had taken for goodwill during the years of youth and beauty. I felt shame that I had misinterpreted and been taken in by such superficial pleasantries. During my early forties, I experienced a great deal of disappointment, even bitterness. Far from being jealous of younger women who unknowingly enjoyed favor and status, I pitied their ignorance. In due time they would come to share my experiences and concerns.

Consequently, I expected this time in my life to be one of lingering sadness. That is not how I am feeling. I feel a slow warm joy, starting in my chest and emanating out to the rest of my body. The blue sky seems extraordinarily beautiful today. Breakfast tasted extraordinarily good. The ugliness of all that is shallow belongs to other people, people who value it. I let them have my share. I release myself from understanding their point of view. My body is sound and healthy. Being "old" means being alive; it is an achievement. I am alive, free from pain, free from want. This is what I value. I not only celebrate that I am no longer young; I have a passionate desire to experience more, to become even older.

This morning I took myself out for a coffee at a local cafe in "The Village". I sat alone in the corner, with a severe case of hat head after my one-mile walk through the cold. Hair matted, overalls wrinkled, I sat infused with my own feelings of delight at being alive and healthy. To the other patrons in this crowded, stridently friendly, affluent, environment, I was invisible. These people were completely absorbed in the images they traded. I could ignore them with impunity; the coffee tasted extraordinarily good as they faded into background noise.

My message to all those to whom I am invisible is, I am not listening. The dialogue has ended.


 

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