I went out to dinner with family last night to celebrate my youngest sister Gale's 50th birthday. Yes, YOUNGEST sister. My middle sister turns 51 next week. They are less than a year apart. I'm 52. We are all very close in age, aren't we? There was quite a crowd of us with our grown children and little grandchildren, my dad, and Gale's sister-in-law and her family. Someone thought it was quite humorous to gift my sis with a cane. Her sister-in-law's daughter, a young teenager, said quite innocently, "Aunt Gale, that's kind of a mean present, isn't it? After all, you won't need it for a couple of years until your like...55?" Of course this caused roars of laughter from most of the group. Me? I couldn't laugh. I didn't say anything, but I wanted to scream and shout and rip my clothes. Overreaction? Maybe, but it did make me yearn to stand on the table and yell at anyone and everyone within 100 miles that 50 doesn't have to be an age of decline any more than 30 does.
I see the difference in how I am treated now that there are some wrinkles in my face. I see the difference in the way I am interacted with because of my heavy body. I see the deference people, even my own husband, give me because of my body's decline due to my diseases and disorders. I don't want respect and reverence because of my inabilities, dammit! I want respect and reverence because of my ABILITIES, because of my not allowing the physical to dominate the spirit and drive. I need people to see beyond the short, round, somewhat crippled body to the true me, the ME who REALLY exists inside this shell I'm given to walk around in.
If my shadow were able to cast a silhouette reflective of the MaryJane I really am, it would look so difference from what the eye sees. To those whose eyes see 50 as old, as getting into the declining years, and see any infirmity as a sign of weakness I would teach them that the heart still races at the caress of a lover, the mind still yearns for knowledge, the spirit still soars at the thought of adventure, and the soul still sings with joy. I slay dragons daily. I battle daily not to give in to pain. I'm more fierce than I was in my 20s, smarter than I was in my 30s, and more determined than I was in my 40s.
Don't look at fat on the outside and see nothing beyond that. Don't look at a limp or a cane and perceive frailty. Give reverence to all - not because of anything you see with your eyes, not because of age or disability, but because nearly every outer shell holds a treasure inside of unimaginable wealth.
If you could walk around for one day as the silhouette of your true self, what would people REALLY see? That thought, and last night's events, inspired today's short poem: