It has been awhile since I have posted anything. I feel a lot like I am in a dry and thirsty land, and there is nothing much to say. It is a season of change, similar to many I have passed through before, a silence that is deafening and a thirst that dries the very soul. The heavens are like a steel awning, prohibiting prayers from rising and answers from descending. Nature curls in on herself as the Northern Hemisphere readies for winter, and my spirit also curls inward. My cheery attitude got stuck in the muck somewhere and I am pasting a smile on my face right now that isn’t even skin deep. The masks I wear are fragile things and if one should crumble or crack, then I’ll be revealed for the person I really am…
And somehow, that doesn’t bother me as much as the fact I am having to wear the masks. But I do have to wear them, at least for the journey across this desert. Maybe mid-way, I will begin to fling them off.
I suspect that part of my present state of mind has to do with missing the entire summer’s gardening, and now that we are fully ensconced in autumn weather with storms rolling in off the Pacific Coast and I can see all that I did not accomplish… The peonies that needed to be transplanted to better lighting won’t be moved. The Oregon grape still needs to be hacked down. The lilac needs pruning before the first ice storm of the season does it for me. And I still can’t walk like a normal person, much less operate a shovel decently enough to move peonies (although the good Lord knows the soil is drenched enough to make the digging easy – it’s just that they should have been moved in September, not mid-October, and I haven’t a free weekend until November!).
Another part of it is the land-mark birthday that is quickly creeping up on me. I will be 60 years old in November. It doesn’t seem possible. I’m not afraid of turning 60, but I want to embrace this new season in my life. Thinning hair on my scalp and long hairs growing randomly from my face. The softening of facial flesh that is rounding my face out in a grandmotherly fashion. The tremor in my hand when I try to do something involving fine motor skills. How long it is taking me to heal from the broken bones in my right foot – now, that depresses me! Age spots. Benign cancer spots. Eczema on my face.
I didn’t take the photo. But that’s my awesome “I’m Turning Sixty and I Don’t Give a Damn About Perfect Eyebrows, Skin, or Boobs” Hat.
I plan to wear a wonderful clashing purple. I probably will not join the Red Hat Society, because I am a rebel like that: I liked that poem long before there was a Society to go with it, and I’ve planned this rebellion from a young age. I did sort of imagine my hair would be white at the time, but that was before I understood my hair will probably stay dark for a long time. My Dad never did turn grey and he was 83 when he passed.
I get excited when I talk about the change in seasons, but it isn’t as simple as that. It’s more like sitting in an office kitchen, staring out at an empty parking lot, and watching the grey clouds roll over. Waiting. Just waiting.
The waiting is long and arduous, like a hike across the Sinai Desert. I know there are good things on the other side. A “land of milk and honey” exists there. But here, in the right here and now, I am struggling. One foot in front of the other. Get up in the morning and go to work. Come home and do what is necessary… I confess I often turn into a vegetable at home. My brain -and, more importantly, my emotions and my sensors, are done. Too many people, too much to think about, too much “extroverting”, too many things I have to do at home that I’m either not physically able to do yet or the weather is thwarting me at.
I’m a typical extreme introvert pulling back into my shell. I’m done. I’m tired. I’m unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I know there is a light. I know there is a change. I know – despite everything that Depression tells me – that when everything aligns and the long-sought for change happens – I will be happy and content. I know this because I have survived so many deserts. I have watched seasons in my life come and go. I have embraced winter and summer. I am an optimist who believes that everything works out in the end, no matter what.
But I still have to walk through this desert.
Warning – by Jenny Joseph 1961
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.