One of the benefits of having a cupboard full of journals is that some days, for some reason - or maybe for no discernible reason at all - you find yourself flicking through the pages and (re)discovering something jotted down a few years ago. I'd completely forgotten about the poem I found yesterday, and which came at a perfect time...
There have been a few occasions recently when I've been confronted by the fact that I really am getting older. Before you rush to tell me that 40-something isn't very old, I should clarify: until now I pretty much felt the same as I did in my 20s, except for the exhaustion and permanent eye-bags which I put down to being a mother of two. But lately it's different. Gravity is visibly taking it's toll on a body that has grown and nourished two children and that walks several miles every day, but would otherwise prefer to be seated to facilitate something more interesting (to me) than exercise. My hair is getting more 'glittery' and I can no longer jump out of bed as soon as I wake. I need to wear glasses, and things are starting to creak and ache a bit more than I'd like. Also I was a bit shocked at the forty-two year old me in those Blogtacular photos - my body seems to have shrunk and considerably 'softened' - if it continues along the same trajectory I may eventually turn into a ball!
Some time ago Lisa Condgon wrote about ageing, and how she decided to own her image as a middle-aged woman with grey hairs and laughter lines - I went back to read it again this week (it was fitting, Lisa was a keynote speaker at Blogtacular. Meeting her was one of the highlights and she didn't look old at all, she looked strong and beautiful). So I had been thinking about all of this when my journal appeared in my hands and, flicking through the pages, I found a perfect poem copied out in my own handwriting. (My memory is also bad these days and if it hadn't been my writing I wouldn't have remembered writing it down.) I've reproduced the words below - maybe you will enjoy them too.
You are not your age,
Nor the size of clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the colour of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You're the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you've cried,
You're the songs you sing so loudly,
When you know you're all alone,
You're the places that you've been to,
And the one that you call home,
You're the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You're the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You're made of so much beauty,
But it seems that you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you're not.
- Erin Hanson
These words were written by a poet half my age. You can find more of Erin's beautiful (and wise) poems here.