Saturday, 23 January 2010

She may very well pass for 43........

....in the dusk, with the light behind her!
So runs the old Gilbert and Sullivan song - a very sexist remark in these politically correct days I am afraid. The same goes for the old rhyme:-
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
is happy and wise and good and gay. Who would use "gay" in that context these days?

Tonight we are going to a Burns Night Party. These particular friends hold one every year on the nearest Saturday to January 25th, There will be neaps and tatties to eat along with the haggis, lots of puds and nice conversation. There will not be dancing or bagpipes - we are all too old for the former and the bungalow is too small for the latter.
But just taking Tess for a walk up the lane a few minutes ago (when I noticed, entirely by the way, that rabbits have chewed the bark off many small bushes and saplings which shows how hungry they got during the snow) I got to thinking about what I was going to put on my blog today and about Robert Burns.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n devotion! (From Ode to a Louse!!!)

I wondered - do we ever see ourselves as others see us? Maybe the only place that this truly occurs is when we catch sight of ourselves in a shop window. Correction - sometimes I catch sight of a bent old lady hobbling along, head down, hair askew - only to realise a moment later that that bent old lady is me.
Because of course there comes a time of life (which I have long-since reached) when in order to look at oneself in the mirror one has a check list:
Dim the lights to 'favourable' - check.
Stand up straight - check.
Pull in tummy muscles - check.
Put on a pleasant expression - check.
Take a quick peek in the mirror. Other than that - avoid the mirror as you would the plague.

I can tell you though, from my somewhat advanced age, that there is suddenly a day when you don't care any more. Time has taken its toll of smooth skin, slim waist, thick luscious hair, shapely legs and you say to yourself "I am what I am and what the hell!"

But what about the inside? I would think that we never ever know how others see us in that respect. I know what I think I am like. I know that I try to adhere to my rule -"to thine own self be true". I think I am a fairly generous spirit and I think I am quite good-natured - but then, don't we all think like that? Is there anybody out there who thinks they are terribly mean, bad-tempered and thoroughly objectionable? I doubt it. I guess we all go to the grave with our secret selves intact. We can't tell anyone what we are like - actions speak louder than words after all - and everyone will have their own opinions of us.
Have you noticed in Obituaries nobody ever speaks ill of the dead? However much of a curmudgeon a person is, once they are dead their good points rise to the surface like oil on water and their obituaries become glowing.

So, here's to you Rabbie Burns, two days early, I raise my glass of single malt - I might find you hard to read in dialect but my goodness me you put into words one or two things that are so true - and none more than this.

34 comments:

Leilani Lee said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful post. Somewhere I have an essay "I like that old woman I am growing into..." It has been my goal for a number of years to become a "wonderful old woman." I am determined I am going to succeed too!. You forgot one thing: I was recently advised to "always carry your chin as high as possible to keep the double chin from being so obvious" Do you really really eat haggis?

Golden West said...

I think the saying "You're only as old as you feel" runs true, although I'm still trying to figure out where the term "golden years" came from.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I enjoyed reading this post Pat. After the initial angst, I think being older offers us a freedom from all the superficial concerns that often consume us when we are younger. There is a freedom in not being on display, not needing to please, on suddenly being invisible. Let's all kick up our heels, be who we are, and enjoy ourselves!

Karen said...

"neaps and tatties to eat along with the haggis,"....do I dare admit that I know not the meaning of these three things? I will assume the are edible :-) ...

Great post, so poignent.. I remember my grandmother's words not too long before she passes at the age of 85.. a lovely woman inside and out.. "I still feel like my 20 year old self inside...it's the outside that's so hard to recognize".

steven said...

weaver - a truly beautiful post. i like to think that as we grow older physically we grow closer to the intent of our soul. our inner selves become more whole and more beautiful. i've observed this with so many people - particularly my own father before he flew away! have a lovely evening in the dale! steven

Pondside said...

I've always believed that as we age we just become more of who/what we were when young. Sometimes this isn't so nice, but usually it's just a softening around the edges of personality and person.
Great post, and I wish you a Happy Robbie Burns celebration!

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Lovely read. I agree with you about the bagpipes but you're never to old to do a highland fling! Have a good time.

We are such complex characters aren't we? And I reckon we project many different sides of our personality depending on our audience. My blog pals all seem to think I'm nice but really .....

MarmaladeRose said...

Yes I know what you mean. I have a photo on my blog page as I think it's nice to be able to put a face to the name. The only thing is, I cringe every time I see it. Is that really me? Do I really look that old and dishevelled?

More photos of the lovely textile book cover please. I'm very greedy when it comes to textiles! Lol

Arija said...

Too true my dear, tootrue. We can but revue what we thhink ansay of others and hope they are equally kind.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Ooh, we sail in dangerous waters if we give too much thought to how we are viewed by others. Especially in the physical sense. This post made me smile. I have jumped at the unexpected sight of my reflection before myself! I suppose the old quotation of Elvis Presley might fit..."everything's okay as long as it doesn't scare the children".

Have a rolling good time at the Burns night. Beware the haggis!!

FireLight said...

Hello Weaver of Grass, please take me with you... if only in spirit...to the Burns Dinner! "Scots Wha' Hae'" & raise your glass!
Boy, do I ever know that..."Who-is-that-in-the-window-reflection?" kind of moment. Not that I don't like her...but she has changed! One of the marvelous aspects of blogging is that we do get a fairly consistent and honest inner image of one another, and to borrow a phrase from the sixties...there are some truly "beautiful people" here and you are certainly at the top of the list! I always enjoy my sojourn to your farm the Dales! Enjoy the evening and please give a full report later!

Heather said...

Lovely post Weaver. I'm glad I don't have the power to see myself as others do - I might be in for a shock. I have definitely reached the age of 'what you see is what you get'! I do believe in clean and tidy and a bit of extra for special occasions! I find all the beauty and anti-ageing remedy adverts hilarious as none of the models is old enough to have a wrinkle. Enjoy your Burns' Night celebration - pity about the bagpipes.

Crafty Green Poet said...

There's a certain freedom in not caring what others thing, or what the mirror shows, you could never please all the people all the time anyway....

ArtPropelled said...

There are quite a few Burns night parties here tonight as well and we were just discussing why people loved Burns poetry back in the day. We concluded that his poems were simple and often spontaneous and people could relate to them.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, who is that hideous old bat in the mirror who thinks she is 8 or 28
or at most 38?.......
and the spirit within shines o bright too
Happy Burns night!

Titus said...

Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful to be given just 24 hours in which to see ourselves as others do?

I have a certain mirror in the house which is the "acceptable face" one, and I carry that memory with me for the rest of the day!

Have a super Burns supper (although you've left already, I suspect!), ours is tomorrow night so posting that battle poem tonight will aggravate one of my hosts considerably!
My last two born on the Sabbath day. No idea what day I was born on, must be a way to find out via the web. Mum gets us all confused whenever we ask!

Granny Sue said...

I met my husband over the telephone, and not in person until a month later when I was fascinated by him. I did not know what he looked like until then. Which is like I know you. In my mind you are graceful, thoughtful, a thinker with a kind face. If I met you in person that is what I would see, Weaver. The rest is not part of the picture.

rallentanda said...

This is an interesting post about age.I was swimming a few days ago in a harbour pool that I have been frequenting since I was a child.
When I was a child I remember seeing women of my age (now) breaststroking along,with half moon glasses and chains,rubber swimming caps, flabby prominent veined flesh, chatting away. There was something very reassuring about them.

Now at the pool women of my age all have dyed hair(I don't see many grey haired people)reasonably toned bodies in swimmers that reveal wrinkled thinness.They don't look young...they look as if they are attempting to look young.I think it is very sad that we live in a society that recommends that old age be disguised at all costs.After all,you're only as old as you look. Isn't that how it goes these days ? I miss those old ladies.There I go again..I have already forgotten that I am one myself!

Pam said...

I think the mirror is very kind, very soft-focused, until I put my glasses on - then kappow! I think in many ways, its a great kindness to give us failing eyesight as we age. I met my brother at his workplace for lunch a few years ago. He looked in the lobby briefly for me, then turned to go back inside his workplace, before a light-bulb moment. He came back very amused and said " I was expecting you, but all I saw was this middle-aged lady- I didn't recognize you!"Guess one could be a bit put out, but half the time we don't recognize ourselves!Also we have a song written long ago in Australia "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,Merry merry king of the bush is he...
Laugh, kookaburra, laugh kookaburra,
Gay your life must be".
Such old fashioned words that reflect the times. When kookaburras make their raucous noise, I don't know anybody these days who would exclaim "My! Doesn't that gay kookaburra sounds merry!" I enjoyed your post Weaver.

Poet in Residence said...

Some comedian once said that a man is only as old as the woman he feels. Perhaps it was Groucho Marx. Or maybe it was May West. No matter.

I think to keep our sense of humour is good medicine for advancing years.

A lovely, thoughful post.

Elisabeth said...

It's the contrast between the inside and the outside, the sense we have of being as we always were, young, that amazes me. When I was young I struggled with a wish to look older in order to be taken more seriously.

Those days are past. Now the reverse might be the case. How sad that we get caught up in superficial appearances. There's so much more to life than aging.

patteran said...

You're so right, Pat, about the moment beyond which we care no more about the image in the shop window. If I have any problems with the six-pack turning into its collective product, it's much more to do with not wanting to have to cart excess weight around on waning limbs than vanity!

I hope you had a good Burns Night, one and all.

elizabethm said...

I love the way a really good blog provokes a raft of really good comments too! And yes, know that shop window moment but remember having it when I was in my thirties too so it can't all be age.

Gramma Ann said...

I enjoyed your pondering today. And the one thing we can't stop is the aging process. And I agree it is what we are inside that is most important. As far as staying young, I have a lot of young friends that keep me feeling young. I always say, "Therefore, I will be forever young!"

The Weaver of Grass said...

The answer to do I eat haggis is a Definite No. The farmer eats it and when I asked him last night what it tasted of he said, "nothing much."

Thanks LL for reminding me to keep my head up thus not revealing my double chins - I had forgotten that.

Has anybody got any ideas on what old age is called "the golden years" - certainly beats me.

The Weaver of Grass said...

When I am old I shall wear purple, as Jennie Joseph says and I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled as TS Eliot says.
There are compensations to growing old - it is just that I can't for the life of me recall what they are at present.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Karen: I liked that quote very much - it is quite true, one does not feel any different inside (not that I have reached 85 yet - but I know what she means).

The Weaver of Grass said...

Steven and Ponside - thank you both for such positive thoughts on getting old.

Derrick - I refuse to think of you as anything but very nice - so don't go and ruin my dreams.

I have to say Fiona, I did not recognise you in that photo on your blog - you are much prettier than that (honest)

The Weaver of Grass said...

It is worth remembering Pamela's quote "Everything is OK as long as it doesn'g scare the children!"

Thank you for visiting Firelight - I shall pay a return call shortly.

Heather - just how I feel - clean and tidy and a bit of lippy for that special occasion.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Juliet - I think that sense of freedom has only come with the advent of feminism, don't you?

Robyn - I think you are quite right about Burns's poetry, although it is pretty hard for us to read in dialect, I think it had immediate impact with his fellow Scots.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Elizabeth - the spirit never changes.

Titus - shall think about you tonight having a whale of a Burns Night.

Granny Sue - keep your illusions of weaver of grass - that is one of the good things about blogging - I could be an ugly old bat with a foul temper and you would never know.

Rallentanda - I like the idea of wrinkled thinness - it makes me much happier to be a little on the plump side!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Pam for your comment - I shall remember to leave my glasses off next time I look in the mirror.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Quiet right Gwilym - you certainly need a sense of humour. Love that quote.

Yes Elizabeth - a full life is a great antidote to growing old.

Patteran - "waning limbs" oh dear that is a sad image (sad but true)

Yes I agree - you are as old as you fell - having said this I therefore say I vary between sixteen and ninety four depending on the day.

Thank you for the lively discussion.

BT said...

An excellent post Weaver. We missed Burns night, so no haggis for me this year. I do quite enjoy it though. I played the Plaintiff in 'Trial By Jury' and I was well past 43, which struck me as funny when the judge sang that song and I was the would be bride!!