Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I came to grips with being 'old' when I turned 60. Not to say that I couldn't have done it at 65, 70 or maybe back in my 50s but for me, it came at 60. And it did take some adjusting.

We unfortunately live in a culture that doesn't value what is old. Mostly it is onto the new thing before the old even wears out and that is true for people as well as computers or toasters. For a long time I felt comfortable saying I was middle-aged, but there comes a point where, as your kids are also approaching middle aged, that doesn't seem right. And besides what is wrong with saying-- I am old?

Must be something as mostly when you say it, others say-- oh no you're not. Or you're as old as you feel (some days that'd be 100) or age is a state of mind. In other words, it's not that I feel okay to say I am old. It makes others feel uncomfortable when I say I am.

I regularly subscribe to a certain fashion magazine. Generally it has articles that suit every age-- although I admit many are oriented toward what surgery or cream would restore youthful vitality (answer-- none). I enjoy the articles and the photos of the latest fashion, pieces about interesting women at various stages and places in life, but this last issue made me decide to not continue the subscription when it runs out. Why? Well it was magazine devoted to Fabulous at Every Age. Sounds good, right?

Except inside was their headline piece on Sharon Stone and it was obviously airbrushed to within an inch of its life. She didn't look like the woman I have seen in other pictures, barely looked 30; and I don't believe it was plastic surgery that did it. I think it was the wonders of computer technology. Why would they do that given she is only 48-- which seems young to me by the way? Why would you do a story on fabulous at any age, use a beautiful woman of 48 and then airbrush out all evidence that she was 48? Do you know anyone even in their 30s without any lines in their faces?

Then another article, which was great on Angelica Huston, interesting woman-- 54-- and same thing, hardly anything left of the lines or any possible sags thanks to the computer. She spoke of admiring Georgia O'Keeffe, the painter, which says that she probably didn't request those lines being airbrushed out-- or (something I find unlikely) she never saw photos of the vital, old O'keeffe with lines all over her well-lived in face. No, it probably wasn't her who wanted the signs of the interesting life she has lived erased, it was the magazine. How can you devote a magazine to 'fabulous at any age,' where to be honest, you should have added 'through the wonders of modern technology?'

By this time, most of the movie stars in this country, who are older, have had enough surgery, Botox and assorted other injections that they are lucky to be able to move their face, let alone look real. There is nothing youthful about a face that is plastic. It's all done though to not look old which is considered nearly a disease instead of a natural cycle. Diane Keaton was interviewed recently regarding face lifts and said she was taking the face, with which she was born, with her when she died. That's also my plan.

There is something beautiful and illuminated about an old face that has gotten there though a full life. I particularly like this saying (would love to know who first said it as you can find it online repeated over and over but never with an author)--

"Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride!”

(Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe from image search with Google-- at www.pku.edu.cn/.../Georgia%20O'keeffe.jpg)


Rexroth's Daughter said...

I am glad you have decided to give up that magazine. It would have been delightful had they actually shown women who were Fabulous at Every Age without airbrushing out what they consider to be the "unfabulous" parts. I started to have gray hair when I was in my late 30s. I am going to be 54 in May, and I'm almost entirely gray-haired. I think an aging face is beautiful. It is a shame that our culture doesn't celebrate the beauty that we all have at every age.

Sandy said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful views on aging. I agree with them almost 100% and wholeheartedly. The only area I do "touch" up is my hair, I add streaks to it, this either keeps the "silver" from shining through or accentuates, whatever the case aging "gracefully" is the way I plan on doing it and thanks for the words on thinking 48 is young ;)

Rain said...

Silver hair is beautiful. My hair is not very gray yet. I have been streaking some color down through the front of my hair to try to blend back and front together for now. I keep thinking each month that I'll let it all go natural but once you ever colored anything, it's harder to do.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Ah, I hope Ronni Bennett sees this post, Rain. I guess old is a state of mind to some extent, but I, too, love to see really old faces--bearing the roadmaps of life. I admit that my own hair is dyed, however, and though I haven't had surgery and won't, our culture does promote it. As for the fashion magazines, I look at them some, too, but the women look so anorexic and Goth--but it's all a matter of perception, I guess.

Winston said...

After checking out several usually reliable sources, I conclude that the quote at the end of your essay was written by someone named either Unknown or Anon.

You might be interested in a slightly modified version I found (also written by Mr. or Ms. Unknown):
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in one handsome and well-preserved piece. You should slide broadside across that finish line, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, and shouting 'Geronimo!'"

Rain said...

*laughing* that is funny, Winston :)

Sonia said...

Love this post, Rain. I love so much your wise and meaningful view on aging. I agree with all you said, but… I dye my hair! I am 63 and I have a lot of gray hair. I started going gray in my 40s and it’s a family trait to go gray early. So, I did color my hair since this age and I cannot imagine that I will ever stop getting my hair dyes. I haven't had surgery and won't. I also agree with Fran, when she said that “our culture does promote it.”
I think you know that I wrote a little book about growing older, “O que é Velhice”, which I can translated by “What is be elderly”. In this book I mention that the health and the healthy body have an important role in the growing older process. Health and also independence in all those meanings are very important! I really think that body independence and financial independence are much important when we growing older.
Finally, I like to share a Simone de Beauvoir’s quote that I love so much: ”Die young or grow old—so far there seems to be no other option”.

Rain said...

That was interesting, Sonia and I didn't know you had written a book on aging. Is it available translated into English?

I don't know if I will continue to color my hair or not. I began in my mid 50s after a major surgery, anaesthetic followed by a permanent that left my hair in terrible condition. I thought what the heck and went for a dark color that wasn't really natural to me but fun. I've tapered it down to some streaks in the front for now and everytime i think about quitting, I change my mind.

Endment said...

Coming to grips with being "old" hasn't been much of an issue for me. I have friends who are active, vivid and creative who are in their 90's just lost a friend who was still going for daily walks at 103. I admit to being older at 65 - if I expect to live as long as my parents I have at least 20 to 25 years ahead of me. Yes, life has changed a bit and my hair is closer to white than to gray - but I am enjoying every minute of it and wouldn't want to go back to being 20 for anything in the world. I can't hope for much better than to have as much character and beauty as Georgia O'keeffe
Here's to the rest of "the ride!"

Rain said...

your attitude on aging is great, Endment and I'm sure it has helped that you have had those positive role models.

For me, I have had two times of doing a readjustment for who I saw myself as. First was about 27 and leaving behind girlhood. I had two children and it just suddenly dawned on me I wasn't a kid anymore (like duh!) and again that could have come any age or maybe not at all for someone else. Then didn't happen again for me at 40 or 50 as it does for some but hit me at 60-- another major change coming, I guess. I have seen positive and negative sides for aging in my family.

Parapluie said...

My opinions on my sensuality has changed. When I was 18 my great aunt knit me a form fitting sweater with open work in the cable pattern. I would not wear it because it was indecent. Now 45 years later and a little heavier recently I was considering throwing it away. "But wait" I thought, "the open work would stretch and make nice lines back and front. If only I could squeeze into it." When I did try it I felt artistic and sensual. The garment was so comfortable unlike a bra and it was gently supportive. What a wonderful gift my great aunt had given me - permission and the where with all to be sensual throughout my whole adult life stages.

Rain said...

That is so neat, Parapluie. I love the imagery of it. What a painting that would make of the woman standing in front of the mirror, seeing herself as you described.

I have heard a lot of women find their sensuality in their 50s which is a time they finally feel free to be themselves without expectations that they often got bound up by when in their younger years.

Juli said...

It was a good thing I followed a link to your site from Farmgirl Fare. :)

I am having my 40th birthday in a couple weeks and although I like to think I'm not one who easily falls into society's norms, I admit that this birthday has been taking up a lot of space in my head.

I don't fear aging nor do I dread it. It's just that I'm at a point in my life (that has nothing to do with the number 40) where I'm in transition. It's not my first transition and it won't be my last. It's just that this one is making its presence very well known. I could take up most of your comment section if I was to ramble on about my whole thought process, but I won't. I'll save it for my blog or letters to friends, which is where most of my writing goes.

I do want to say I like your insight and love your photographs. I have farm envy right now so I'm especially happy to see snippets of your life on a farm.

Rain said...

glad to see you found the blog, girlonaglide. 40 seems very very young to me. My daughter turns 40 this year also

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