On Growing Older
Growing older is difficult. At least that was the message communicated to me by my mother. She had a miserable time of it and that memory still remains within me. I am trying not to resist the ageing process and to honour the wise, spirited and attractive woman that I know I am. A little more than one year ago, I had a TaMoko (Maori tattoo) tattooed on my arm by an indigenous Maori artist, Rangi Kipa, from Tauranga, New Zealand. The theme I discussed with him was my desire to honour and embrace myself as an older woman. He interpreted a beautiful representation of this on my arm.
The meaning of the detail carved into my skin was explained by Rangi in this way
With this wisdom offered to me, I am learning to trust the process of growing older. As a white western woman, it is difficult not to feel embroiled in the dominant discourse of our time and culture, which is to deny the ageing process and to work hard to keep looking young.
On my coffee table, I have a magazine with a photo of the actress Helen Mirren on its cover. At seventy-two years old she looks fabulous, sexy and hot! I think I would love to look like that when I am seventy-two. At the same time, I don’t like this feeling of being affected by some kind of shame about looking older. This embarrassment about ageing is embedded in our Western culture, especially for women. Women all around me are fighting the ageing process. Much younger women than me are having facelifts, boob jobs, botox lips to create a younger, sexier look and to keep the wrinkles at bay. Some of this frenetic energy is about the desire to remain attractive to men whom we wish to impress. I find myself surrounded by the socio-cultural pressure to remain youthful looking and to disguise any signs of ageing on my face or on my body. I do not like it and yet I am seduced by it.
Alternatively, I am reminded by my Ta Moko to honour this journey of growing older. To honour my years of experience of life and of living. To welcome the opportunity to transmit some of what I have learnt to
One of my friends wiser than I, who is from a culture who truly honours and values their old people said this to me recently, “If there is anything worse than growing old Ros, it is not growing old”.
I hope this wisdom teaches me to embody the beautiful older woman I wish to be.
The photo I have chosen for this blog is me celebrating my birthday only a few weeks ago in Melbourne, with my beautiful Mexican friend Jorge, who was whirling me around the dance floor! The photo was captured by my gorgeous Swedish friend Jytte. I love this photo as it captures a moment in time for me; total abandonment to the moment and the joy of living. I felt so happy that night, celebrating my birthday with wonderful friends.
My Ta Moko is also visible, reminding me to celebrate my journey in Life. It is the only one I will ever have.