Because I am old(er)…

Today is Susannah Conway’s 41st birthday. She’s not nearly as old as I am, but in a space of fabulous insight and profound inspiration, she asked a number of women to write and post on this particular day, about what it means and feels like to be getting older. I’m honored to be one of them. 

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Because I believe our voices need to be heard, I offer the words that follows in first-person, audible version. Listen to me tell you the story.

Because I am old(er)…*

I could talk about what I have learned these past 53 years, about how my body doesn’t move or respond quite the way it used to, about how I sometimes don’t recognize the face that stares back at me in the morning, about what it feels like to walk through the mall or thumb through a magazine or flip through channels surrounded by youth and its glorification, about often usually being the oldest person in the room, house, business, even social settings. None of this is what I really want to say. Here it is:

I’ve heard and felt it for the past few years: a sort-of distant drum beat to begin with, now, closer than my very heartbeat; a pulse, a whisper, a chorus, a chant – a nearly-visceral awareness that I am compelled, called, and required to say and give what I know - because I am old(er).

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It’s not about content – what I’ve studied, the expertise I’ve gained, the work I’ve done – though that matters. It’s not about my unique experiences – places lived, relationships survived and lost, lessons learned – though those matter. It’s not about my particular story – family of origin, personality, choices, preferences – though this matters, as well. It’s about all of this and then some. And it’s the “then-some” of which I really want to tell you; the ways in which each of these elements have impacted all that I know, believe, doubt, question, and trust.

I did some research for this post, looking online and in books I own for quotes, perspective, data on what I’m feeling and trying to say. Oddly, maybe profoundly, nothing showed up. And though I know it’s out there, I closed the last book and every-single-extra tab on my laptop screen then moved my keyboard in front of me.

Me at 52This is what it’s about: not looking other places for the wisdom that’s within; speaking what I know because it matters and needs to be heard; trusting that my thoughts must be articulated and shared. I am compelled, called, and required to step into the world with more strength, more perspective, more volume, more fierceness, more determination, just more, than ever before. I am compelled, called, and required to walk through my world as one who sees, who hears, who knows, and who offers all of this and then some to my daughters, my friends, my peers, my world.  

I am compelled, called, and required to speak and give me, expressly because I am old(er).

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I couldn’t/wouldn’t have seen, let alone said this ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. The credibility or authority (whether offered internally or externally) would not have been mine. But now it is. At 53 I can and must sit at my kitchen table or my laptop, stand on a soap-box or a mountain-top , and speak/give what I know. No holding back. No editing. No censoring. Because what I know and who am matters.

A part of me All of me wants to say, “Come. I have so much to tell you, so much to offer, so much to give.” But it sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? (The too-long-listened-to voices within still attempt to control and quiet.) And right now, in this very moment, I see myself reflected in the windows that front my desk: a woman in her 50s, questioning her right and ability to speak! I laugh, out loud. Mostly at myself, but also at any who would think me too much and ever dare to say so.

So consider yourself warned and wooed: I am waaaaaay too much! Which is exactly the way I like it, the way it should be, the way it is. Risky. Bold. Dangerous. Deal with it. Deal with me – or don’t. But if you can, if you want, if you will, oh, how much I will give, how much I will offer, how much I will say, how much I will love. Because I can. Because I must. Because I’m old(er).

And at the end of this post, what I realize is this: Even the remotest feeling that as I age I should somehow quiet down, slip away, or fade into the background is a lie from the pit of hell. More, the endless attempts by the over-culture and media itself to convince me of such, is evil embodied. Here is what is true: the older I get, the louder, the more present, the more fiery and alive and passionate and impossible-to-ignore.

This is no small story – mine. I carry the lineage, the blood, the hope-and-strength of thousands of women before me and it is my right and responsibility to keep them alive, just as they keep me alive in every single way possible. I am the daughter of Eve, Hagar, Deborah, Jael, Mary, Mary Magdalene, the woman who wept, the women at the tomb, the countless others who have names we’ve never heard, tales we’ve neglected to tell, stories that thunder, lives that yet live. They will not be silent, nor will I. And this closer-than-my-heartbeat pulse, whisper, chorus, and chant is what keeps me alive; hardly old, rather, old(er), wis(er), strong(er) than ever before. 

I’ve heard and felt it for the past few years: a sort-of distant drum beat to begin with, now, closer than my very heartbeat; a pulse, a whisper, a chorus, a chant – a nearly-visceral awareness that I am compelled, called, and required to say and give what I know.

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Do you hear it? Do you feel it?

It resonates, reverberates, and shakes the rooftops (as do I). I am here. And oh, how much I have to tell you, to say, to give…because I am old(er).

May it be so.

(Happy Birthday, Susannah!)

 

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    { 18 comments… read them below or add one }

    Susan Tuttle February 5, 2014 at

    When I read this inspiring piece I feel like I am singing, and I am not alone. There is a whole CHOIRFUL of women joining in! And the song is REAL — not perfect or polished, but HEARTFELT, loud, guttural, there’s drumming, dancing, fire, a circle of women holding hands lifted high! Wow, you are an incredible, authentic writer, taking me to such a place! Thank you for your inspiration!!
    Susan Tuttle recently posted..Self-LoveFest :: Why I Love Getting Older

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 5, 2014 at

    I’m so grateful for your response, Susan; more, the opportunity to be part of this change-the-world effort together. Such gift and privilege to stand alongside one another, holding hands, listening to/hearing one another into greater strength, greater power, even greater beauty. xo

    Reply

    Sandra Pawula February 5, 2014 at

    This is such an inspiring perspective on getting older! It’s so easy to get stuck in focusing on what we’re loosing instead of all that we’ve gained. Let’s not go there and instead celebrate the wisdom of our mature voice!
    Sandra Pawula recently posted..How I Became a Former Workaholic

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 5, 2014 at

    I could not agree more, Sandra! Thank you for your kind words.

    Reply

    Susannah Conway February 5, 2014 at

    This – this! – is why I wanted to do this wee project… i knew I would find words that resonated to my core. You are a little way ahead of me, dear Ronna (only a little!) but i can see the trail you blaze from here. And it is so beautiful xx
    Susannah Conway recently posted..The (delicious) truth about getting older

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 5, 2014 at

    Privilege and gift to be part of this with you – and on your behalf, dear Susannah. Thank YOU!

    Reply

    Julie Daley February 5, 2014 at

    Yes, I see it! Yes, I hear it. So much wisdom you have to share. Thank you, dear.
    Julie Daley recently posted..Aging: Coming to be a wild soul alive in an erotic body.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 5, 2014 at

    Mmmmm. Thanks, Julie. <3

    Reply

    Rebecca Golightly February 5, 2014 at

    I love this. So good. So timely. Thank. You. “Because what I know and who I am matters.”

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 5, 2014 at

    Yes, this, Rebecca. True about you! xoxo

    Reply

    Sas February 5, 2014 at

    Fabulous! This is so fierce and true and beautiful.
    I am hungry for this conversation.
    You are brilliant dear Ronna x
    Sas recently posted..my word (with wings)

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 6, 2014 at

    Thank you, Sas. SO love being part of this larger movement…with YOU and so many others. We are hungry, to be sure…and we are the ones with all the food, all the goodness, all the resources, yes? Now – to offer it all up – no holding back!!

    Reply

    Sherold February 6, 2014 at

    Ronna Detrick – this is such a beautiful post. I absolutely loved hearing your voice. You are a minister to my Soul. I resonate with all your words. I want to hear you. I am so happy to be in your company, and the company of these amazing women in this conscious aging gift to Susannah.
    Sherold recently posted..Aging with Grace – Age is a State of Mind

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 7, 2014 at

    Thank you, Sherold. What a privilege to be part of this movement via Susannah. And what a gift to hear your words on my behalf. I am grateful.

    Reply

    lone February 8, 2014 at

    Infinitely inspired by your words Ronna – and the space between and behind them. Beautiful invitation from Susannah, what a great way to bring poignant sacred voices together and forth. Love, Love, Love. Aging just became a little more attractive. ;-)
    lone recently posted..What’s left, when all is gone?

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 8, 2014 at

    Thank you, Lone. Such a gift to me to be part of Susannah’s birthday celebration. And you’re SO right: the collected/collective wisdom and beauty of (ageing) women is infinite. <3

    Reply

    Elizabeth February 9, 2014 at

    “So consider yourself warned and wooed: I am waaaaaay too much! Which is exactly the way I like it, the way it should be, the way it is. Risky. Bold. Dangerous. Deal with it. Deal with me – or don’t. But if you can, if you want, if you will, oh, how much I will give, how much I will offer, how much I will say, how much I will love. Because I can. Because I must. Because I’m old(er).”

    Oh, oh, oh! I can feel my spirit singing, resonating with the beauty and wisdom in this, in all of this. Thank you for the fierce, triumphant, powerful call. What a gift to read.
    Elizabeth recently posted..across the miles

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick February 9, 2014 at

    It was privilege to write it, Elizabeth. And gift even more to hear that your heart resonated with it. SO much beauty and wisdom we yet have to offer!! Thank you for your kindness…

    Reply

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