Somehow this morning (cosmically led, perhaps?), I came upon this old post of Ronni Bennett's from several years ago. Her post is about May-December romances. Mine is other...
I was struck by this excerpt:
"Carolyn Heilbrun, in her book, Writing a Woman’s Life, acknowledges the well-known invisibility that envelops most women at middle age, but she goes on in a manner I find encouraging:
“We will move invisibly for a time, to relearn seeing and to forget being seen. As we grow slowly visible, we will be heard more and seen less. Our voices will ramify, our bodies will become a house for our new spirit.”.
And there are younger men who find that spirit more attractive than mere youth.
I'm particularly struck by the phrase, "to relearn seeing and to forget being seen". I have spent so much of my life aware of, concerned about, and afraid of what others think of me that, at times, I've been almost paralyzed. (Wonderful to have moved from that place!)
"To relearn seeing"
When I was living that fear, what was I seeing? What do I need to relearn? I think it is not so much a re-learning process as it is a new learning process. I thought I was seeing - looking at - but, I was really only seeing myself, and so concerned with 'what' people saw when they looked at me that I could give no thought at all for the 'who' they might have seen. And the 'who' - the real me - was invisible, largely because I was so outwardly focused.
As I'm aging, (thank you, god) the rest of that quote is becoming true. Again, Thank God.
I am becoming more visible - to myself - than I have ever been. I'm more clear on the 'who' that I am, more brave, and my body is becoming the "house for my spirit".
I had to look up ramified, and I find that that is true for me, too. I am more complex; and my spirit, my interests, indeed, my own voice are multifaceted and much more powerful.
"To forget being seen"
In some ways, this seemed easier for me for many years. What that ease turned out to be was, at first, just an amazing ability to avoid mirrors. It started with cameras and other people's photos of me. I just got tired of that coy, "oh, no, my hair looks terrible" type of BS and came to realize that I would never have to look at them; could forget that they existed. What a relief it was to say, 'Sure, go ahead". and just smile.
Now, I can consider the thought that I am truly blind if I am too much concerned with 'being seen'. I don't really see other people, or the truth of a situation if I am concerned with how I look or what others think.
Now, I know that looking in is for my meditation or prayer. I can forget that anyone is looking. My years and my path have brought a perspective that we only gain by growing older. With a bit of open-mindedness I might even be(come) wise. As for being seen; the only opinion that really matters is my own. I'm concerned with how closely I stand by my values. When I remember these things, I am in great shape: happy, content, integrous.
"Heard more, seen less"
I can't say that I am seen less. What do I know of what another really sees? I do know that I care less. And this blog attests to the fact that I have stuff to say. Do you hear me? :)
Guess what...even that matters less to me, and ultimately matters not at all.
It seems a bit curious to me.
As I age, I seem to look inward much more in some respects (usually related to self-knowledge), and to become more self-centered. I think it is in some relationship to my interest in dying well. I'll continue that exploration the rest of my life, I suppose. And I can see that I also see others much better, or with thinner blinders. Perspective again, I'm sure.
As Bette says, "From a distance..."