I don’t wish to open this article with over-embellished declarations of fall, but how can one resist? The magic of autumn brings that out in a person, that richness that warms us from within while the glow of our summer skin fades away. Heavy fragrances of hearty meals, the crispness of wind on the blushing trees, the feeling that it’s time to retreat back to our homes, taking a more solemn approach to living each day. As with all stereotypes, its all too often said because it’s all too true. Fall is purely, elegantly entrancing, and it’s rapidly upon us. Aging gracefully is much the same.
Today the thin silks of my wardrobe migrate to make way for more plush wools and furs. Truly, the transition of life is never more apparent than in this changing of season and style. Though each autumn, it seems so easy and exciting to accept that youthful summer has passed and the time for fresh budded life to pass into a new stage, one in which trees, landscapes and lattes mature. But why is it that we can’t see such excitement for maturation in our individual lives? Just as the leaves must turn, so we must age and pass through time. Especially for women, aging gracefully is a touchy subject, but if fall is any indication, it can be a truly transformative, remarkable, and beautiful production if we allow it.
You and I are told every day, in every medium, to hunt the fountain of youth. While it’s perfectly acceptable to want to take care of one’s self in the form of nourishing and protecting your skin, or in the form of pampering your hair once in a while, pretending that the process of aging gracefully isn’t taking place is absolutely not acceptable. First and foremost, because it is an essential and fundamental part of living. Second, because denial, in itself, is the antithesis of respecting life and one’s self. And third, because it depletes from the richness of our lives by taking away a such an incredible experience as growing older is.
When the definition of youth shifts from line-less skin to limitless thinking – the kind of thinking children do, with bright and full imaginations and without the guidelines of possible or acceptable or en vogue – youth is not only available to us all, it’s liberating to each and every one of us. If youth were to come from within rather than with out, that is to say within the mind and heart releasing fresh, new ideas and emotions as opposed to the outer layer of only our physical beings, it never dies. It never fades. It never disappears. It can never be ugly. It can never lost. It can only deepen, and ripen, and expand. And so, as we grow older, we not only become wiser but freer.
The truth is that aging: the miraculous process of growing in experience and wisdom, even down to the intricate details of every wrinkle that travels with you from season to season, and every silver hair that takes the place of old strands who’s time has come and gone, is a precious transition. It is not one to shun or one to deny. To deny it would be to ask the river to stop flowing even as each ripple brings new nutrients to fish further down the stream. Every step along the path of our lives is perfectly and divinely plotted by the master of all playwrights, the universe. It is designed to evolve through time. Had my idols, any of them, from Diane Keaton to Patti Smith to Joni Mitchell, not indulged in the process of aging gracefully, their art would have ceased to grow, and so would I in their image. Truly, if you think about it, if you fight the process of aging, you aren’t moving on or up or anywhere. You’re trying to stand still. And there’s nothing more pathetic than a person who refuses to move on.
Accept the new depth to your character as you age. Take in each passing season of the year and in your life as another trophy upon your shelf. It is time you are conquering, life you are mastering, love you are accruing. Keep the bright, fresh perspective of a wondering child in your heart and let your body wear the years with pride. Though the soul never ages, the body will. And if you deny yourself the fall years of your life, you will miss all the magic of autumnal gold.
Photographed by PLK