Posts Tagged ‘Looking back’
Yesterday, I was Me.
Today, I don’t know who I am.
I look in the mirror and this woman with drooping eyes and lips and jowls stares back at me.
Without makeup and without a smile, she looks sad – and beat. Then she smiles, and wrinkles appear all over her face – smile wrinkles – and her eyes light up, and she laughs, and it’s a laugh I recognize.
I smile back at her. We do know each other. We’re old friends. We may have changed, but not completely.
Yesterday, she always looked eager, sparkling-eyed.
People called her attractive, but she never cared for them or even believed them – she’d rather have been complimented on her work, her mind, her opinions.
Today, when there are no more compliments, it’s as if a part of her former self has disappeared.
Yesterday, her mother told her, “You want to grab onto life with both hands. Slow down. Don’t throw away your life.”
But she was careless, the way so many are when they are young.
She was careless with her loves, her health, her money, and her choices.
Or maybe, she was just too carefree.
She gave away too much and asked for too little.
She ignored the omens of health problems, financial insecurity, and alcoholism.
She worked very hard, but she played just as hard.
She was careless with her money. Twice, she inherited. The first time, she made poor choices and lousy investments, losing it to a corrupt government. The next time, she invested in her own business, and lost everything due to mismanagement.
She was also fortunate: as a career woman, and as a single mother of two boys.
She was able to give them a lovely home, a good education, and a life surrounded by family and friends.
Her career in advertising was unplanned, accidental, starting at a time (the 1960s/70s) when women were trying to break through the glass ceiling. She became a top executive handling Fortune 500 clients. Then it was all gone – and she, a victim of a company merger, downsizing, and ageism.
In her mid-fifties, she made a successful comeback in another career. Until financial corruption rocked the country/world, and like many others, she was left without means of support.
Once again, she would have to make a new start.
Search for new opportunities, seize the day before it grew old and stale.
Yesterday, she believed she would become a great writer.
She believed that she’d be secure in her old age, and could retire to write all those books inside her. Today, she is still working, and her books seem as elusive as when she was young.
Yesterday, she was romantic and dreamed of a great love. For years, despite setbacks, she held onto her illusion that some day that one man would be there for her in her old age. Until that door closed and he was lost forever.
Yesterday, she had years in which to prove herself and use her life as she wanted.
She never imagined that today, looking at her almost unknown face, it would be so different.
Perhaps if she had done this or that, made different choices, even heeded her mother’s warnings.
No, nothing could have contained her adventurous spirit. Her mistakes are as much a part of her as her successes. And she has few regrets at the course her life took.
Her face creases into a smile. Come on, she seems to tell me, it’s not over yet. You can still make it.
Yesterday got away from me.
But it also gave me the experience and understanding of what I can do today to fulfill my dreams.
Tomorrow holds the promise of a new start.
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”Betty Friedan
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