Some feelings become even more exquisite as time passes
Aging is at times seen and referred to as a diminishing of things. Yes, some things diminish. Changes happen. Losses happen. Bodies change. Things can drop, spread and sag, I joke. It’s true. And we can laugh about it. It can be funny, but not always.
I can look down at my now almost 70 year old body and see all the not so welcome changes there, as well as in the face that stares back at me in the mirror.
I remember my father joking about himself “Who is that old man in the mirror?”
We would all laugh at the time. But, it’s real. So very real, this aging journey.
We elders sometimes talk about feeling invisible.
I have had the experience of younger women, who worked alongside me and would be sitting right beside me at a table, talk about experiences, clothes, and other delights of their bodies.
It was as if I wasn’t even sitting at the same table with them. Like I didn’t even exist at that moment. Like I would not be able to relate to anything that they might be talking about. Like I had never been their age, but had somehow always been the age that I now was.
I have entered into the winter of my life.
Yet I realize that I still have all those old feelings inside me. Perhaps the intensity is not the same, or it is not directed in the same direction as it once was. Yet, it is still there. I am still there. I am still here.
Passion and sensuality are still here within me. Sexuality is still here.
I have intentionally not been in a relationship for several years, so I cannot speak of that particular issue of romantic partnered sexuality at this moment.
I have friends, though, who are in relationships and who talk about passion and sexuality being very much a part of their life and of who they are. Still. Maybe even more than ever. Appreciated even more. Delighted in even more. Wonderfully surprised by, even now.
I can, however, speak of my own sensuality. And how I feel every small thing so much more exquisitely and deeply. How I can look at the beauty of a rose and marvel at its texture, its colors, all that it brings to the world if we stop and see it.
I can watch animals outside, birds bathing and delighting in the water, splashing and doing their own form of a water ballet. I can viscerally feel the delight that they take in this dance.
I can observe the elephants, where I volunteer at the zoo, and watch their own form of sacred beauty that never fails to elicit comments from the guests who come to see them and who are quieted in awe. I can watch the elephants reaching out to touch each other with their trunks, making physical contact, saying hello with their bodies. The way I, perhaps, touch a friend on the shoulder to make that connection beyond words, offer a special kind of comfort that only a kind touch can bring.
I can look at my own hands, also wrinkled and saggy, like my elephant friends. I can see the years in them, the work that they have done, the tender touches that they have given and received, the drawing and painting and writing that they help me to express. The reaching out to others in a way that is far beyond what any words can do.
I can see my face in the mirror or in photographs taken. Sometimes I am shocked by how much time has passed and how I see that time reflected. Yet, I can also look into my own eyes and see the life lived, the passion reflected, the tears shed both in pain and in joy. I can see every age that I have been reflected in that image in the mirror, even if others cannot.
I can look at my body and see the way that its shape has shifted. Dropped. Spread out.
And I can also feel the embraces that it has known, the pleasures and pain, the light and dark. The sexuality that it has been overtaken by at times. The abandon. The melting into another for a brief, exquisite moment in time.
I can see the young bride that I once was, and the single elder that I have now become.
That young bride is within me still.
As is the little girl who loved to reach out and touch everything, much to the displeasure of my mother.
My touching everything back then, I now realize, was my way of knowing the world and the things in it. How they felt. What I felt when I connected with them. A knowingness by touch and feel. A knowingness beyond words. A knowingness with our bodies, with our senses.
I touch everything still. I reach out to others to make that sacred kind of contact. I delight when someone reaches out to touch me on the arm, on the shoulder, or with a hug. Especially in the world today since the pandemic, where touch has become even more rare, dangerous, frightful.
I still inhabit this very human, physical, sensual body. I live and breathe and touch and feel. I feel so very much, as aging allows a kind of slowing down to savor each feeling, each touch, each breath.
And I want to remember all those feelings for myself. Even if no one else sees it, to remember and cherish those parts of me. To honor those parts of me. They are not dead, because I am not dead. To be alive is to be sensual. To be alive is to touch. To be alive is to be here, now. With each other. With ourselves.