Monday, December 31, 2007

Aging Well

Every year at New Years, and admittedly on my birthday, there is a particular piece of wisdom I seek out to remind myself of the message it holds. It's not a quote from some philosopher or a poem by a poet with insight into the human soul. It is a song. Aging Well by Dar Williams. There is a message in this song that I truly believe speaks to every human, especially to women. I know that pieces of it, or the whole, have spoken to me at various times.

Why is it that as we grow older and stronger
The road signs point us adrift and make us afraid
Saying 'You never can win,' 'Watch your back,' 'Where's yourhusband?'
Oh I don't like the signs that the signmakers made.

So I'm going to steal out with my paint and brushes
I'll change the directions, I'll hit every street
It's the Tinseltown scandal, the Robin Hood vandal
She goes out and steals the King's English

And in the morning you wake up and the signs point to you
They say 'I'm so glad that you finally made it here,
''You thought nobody cared, but I did, I could tell,'
And 'This is your year,' and 'It always starts here,

'And oh, 'You're aging well.

Our society seems to take pleasure in making us feel as if we are insignificant, as if we don't measure up. Imagine the power you could have in your life if you made the roadsigns. If you made the map that said where you were supposed to go. If someone stood at the end of each step of our journey and said, "I so glad you finally made it here.

'Well I know a woman with a collection of sticks
She could fight back the hundreds of voices she heard
And she could poke at the greed, she could fend off her need
And with anger she found she could pound every word.

But one voice got through, caught her up by surprise
It said, 'Don't hold us back we're the story you’ll tell,'
And no sooner than spoken, a spell had been broken
And the voices before her were trumpets and tympani

Violins, basses and woodwinds and cellos, singing'
We're so glad that you finally made it here
You thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell
And now you'll dance through the days while the orchestra plays

And oh, you're aging well.'

For me this has been the verse that has sung loudest the past two years. Wrapped up in fear, anger and resentment I could force life to my tune, but the pushing and forcing drown out the real me. It drown out the voice I was supposed to be listening to. It was robbing me of the stories I was meant to tell.

Now when I was fifteen, oh I knew it was over
The road to enchantment was not mine to take
Cause lower calf, upper arm should be half what they are
I was breaking the laws that the signmakers made.

And all I could eat was the poisonous apple
And that's not a story I was meant to survive
I was all out of choices, but the woman of voices
She turned round the corner with music around her,

She gave me the language that keeps me alive, she said:
'I'm so glad that you finally made it here
With the things you know now, that only time could tell
Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are

And oh, you're aging, oh and I am aging, oh , aren't we aging well?'

No one needs to explain this part. I'd given up on the "road to enchantment" long before I was fifteen. When you break the rules the signmakers make, the punishment is very high. Odd though how it is often we who end up punishing ourselves.

Today, on New Years Eve and the days after we will hear so much about resolutions. "I'm going to find love." "I'm going to lose weight." "I'm going to accomplish my goals no matter what."

But perhaps the real resolution should be to become our own signmakers. To look at the woman in the mirror with a proud smile and say, "I'm so glad you finally made it here. With the things you know now that only time could tell. Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are. We're aging well."


Molly Daniels said...

Well said, Jae.

Happy New Year:)

Molly Daniels said...

And Happy Birthday:) My SIL's is tomorrow.

Anny Cook said...

Very good blog. Be who we are. And do the best for who we are.

Amarinda Jones said...

I get even more fantastic with age and I am besotted with who I am