Several of my previous posts deal in some way with Beauty. In his superb book Restoring Beauty, Louis Markos offers a striking paradox: “… we are often more afraid of beauty than of ugliness.”
If beauty elicits fear, aging terrifies. As long ago as 1513, explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon searched for life-sustaining water, a legendary Fountain of Youth. An elixir to ward off aging is (to borrow a song lyric from Beauty and the Beast) a “tale as old as time.” Genesis 3:22-24 refers to a Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, certainly predating Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth.
Maybe it’s inborn, but most of us don’t like aging … granted, some people handle it better than others. Young people think they’re immortal; older people generally know they’re not, but that knowledge doesn’t set in with comfortability. Why else do people post selfies on Twitter with comments like: Seventy is the new fifty? Focused as it is on youth, our culture rejects the reality of aging, believing a nip here and a tuck there will somehow nullify the effects of aging.
I like what Proverbs 20:29 says: “Young people take pride in their strength, but the gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful.” (This quote comes from the Contemporary English Version.) Tying together the two concepts, aging (i.e. “gray hairs of wisdom”) with beauty, probably seems counterintuitive to many in today’s youth-oriented culture. But the verse says those “gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful” than a young person’s strength. Ponder that, if you will.
My poem below, Turning Fifty, speaks less about beauty than about aging, a sense one has that the sands in the hourglass of life are dwindling at an ever more rapid rate. Others who write may identify with the dilemma I present, but I think the poem is as well understood by non-writers, because the concept of aging is universal.
Turning FIfty is a Shakespearean sonnet. As mentioned in another post, I’ve set a goal to write 100 sonnets − in hopes of gaining some mastery of the form. The Bard managed to write 154 sonnets; to date, I’ve got 56, and probably another 20 in process.
I’ve also got the gray hairs … I hope they’re indicative of wisdom, but that’s for others to assess. I often tell people I’m on my way to 100 (not just sonnets), but to celebrate a century of living. Think I’ll make it?
10 thoughts on “On the Way to One Hundred”
I was just wondering if I should color the grey in my hair. I think I will pass……for now. I am at the exact stage that the poem talks about, except I still have one son living at home. I am also writing a memoir about my journey with breast cancer. It has given me a purpose and that purpose is to help others who may be on a similar journey. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for your comment! I’m honored! Good luck with your memoir. I’m confident your experience will be a blessing to readers who share your journey.
Whether or not you make it to 100 sonnets or 100 years, you definitely have wisdom, Renee. I enjoy all your posts and poems. Thanks for getting me started on the writing journey so many years ago by inviting me to the writer’s group. I have all kinds of writing projects I hope to complete in this new stage of empty nest life I’m beginning. Let’s root each other on! Go Renee!
I agree! Let’s do root each other on. Your new stage of life will be full of challenges but also rewards. I’ve always thought it should rather be called Empty NeXt because of what’s ahead. Also, I take no credit for your growth as a writer, other than simply extending an invite. YOU embraced the possibility and risk! Bravo, my friend!
How do you feel about self-publishing, Renee (other than online blogging, of course)? I said for years I would never do it, but now I’m doing it! I figure I don’t want to take a chance on never getting to check out my own book from the library (a bucket list item) so I’m going ahead with a poetry book with nature pictures Bret has taken. I have enough poems for at least two more books and I also want to publish The Best of Desperately Doodling Debbie, Volumes I and II. I tried for years to get some children’s books published, but it takes so much time and effort just to be rejected. I’m too old to for that! Well, I do plan to work on the “real” publishing again someday, but right now I feel the need to just do it myself! I know that’s pathetic.
Like you, Debbie, there was a time when I swore off the idea of self-publishing. (Southern Graphics has actually produced numerous self-published items through the years. These were labors of love; I doubt any of the writers broke even.)
More recently though, I’ve warmed to self-publishing. Partly, I think the culture has changed. Publishers are way more interested in guaranteed money-makers nowadays (J K Rowling, John Grisham, Suzanne Collins, Brad Thor, etc.). And for the books I’ve read in the last decade, it seems publishers aren’t working with authors (to make them better writers). Good editors, after all, are expensive! In my view, the quality of literature has suffered due to publishing’s current approach: embrace established writers, publish books with potential tie-ins for movie deals, franchising of toys and assorted gear. (When — ever — has a book of poetry offered that kind of gold mine?)
I think self-publishing (including e-books, websites to showcase your work, etc.) is an ideal market for those of us who don’t have an “in” with conventional editors or a recognizable name like Madonna or Caroline Kennedy. Plus you have more control over your product. I love that you’re going for it and have others in development. Don’t ever “shelve” your ambition to check out your own book from the library, though! You’ll make it happen.
When you’re running for elected office (no matter the level), you are (presumably) going to vote for yourself; you’ll probably be investing at least some personal funds to conduct your race. Self-publishing is no different. You believe in your work and therefore, your $$ investment shows you think it’s a good risk. In a sense, you’re the first buyer.
Thanks for reinforcing my own thinking on the subject, Renee. My oldest daughter, Amy, is acting as my editor of sorts on the poetry book. She’s formatting it all for submission to Amazon or Lulu, not certain which one we’ll go with for sure. Erin helped me organize it. I originally planned a book with mostly poems which had won contest prizes, but they were so diverse in theme, mood and form, Erin convinced me I needed to focus on poetry that meshed better. That’s why I now have at least three poetry books in formation. I couldn’t mesh without going through all of them and throwing them in themed piles! So we’ll see how this first one comes out and then go from there. I’d love to write a novel someday, also, but the thought of such a huge project gives me brain worms.
Ha! Brain worms … now there’s a picture. I look forward to the first compilation!