I had the opportunity to work with Amalia Mesa-Baines, who is a world renowned installation artist, educator, and psychologist. I was familiar with her history going into the project, but had no idea that I would be in the presence of someone so thoughtful and dynamic. After about ten minutes with her, my brain switched from “present and attentive” to “reverent”.
Many of the conversations we had revolved around women and their role in society–was I in heaven?! I worked hard, but I had an ear to whatever Amalia was saying while she was talking to reporters, friends, or co-workers.
Amalia said that she was excited to work around young women, especially, because her role as an artist was shifting. She had so much feeding her experiences–she had learned how to work with history, change, and ideals motivating her. Amalia is an activist! And part of that means knowing when to pass the torch.
Amalia cited that as we grow older, our fire changes. We learn how to listen, when to push, when to step back, and when to embolden other people. We realize the true power of community, not just the self.
This is ringing through my head.
I turned thirty last year, and while I’m still considered “young”, I’ve become more aware of how I carry myself, and what is expected of me. I’ve noticed that I rarely get carded anymore. And I’ve noticed my own yearnings toward styling myself a little more thoughtfully, with a a nod towards my sisters from the (real and fictional) past. I get asked ALL OF THE TIME if we’re going to have kids soon, and this is followed with a warning about not waiting too long, lest my lady parts expire.
So what does aging mean to me? At first it was buying an eye cream. I went to the Benefit counter, and shelled out thirty bucks. I religiously applied it, but I knew it wasn’t going to stop time. The bigger question was, did I want it to?
The answer, it turned out, was no.
I started to seek out women who shared the same characteristics I valued, but had already had important, defining experiences. Part of the fear of aging is fear of death. And since my mother died young, who am I to even attempt to cheat it? The fact is that none of us really knows when we are going to pass on, but we can do the best we can with the things we have control over: maintaining and cultivating healthy relationships, exercising regularly, and eating well. This is the sort of woman I want to be. These are the women I am actively seeking out.
Timing, of course, is everything, and the internet has come to my rescue. Just over the weekend, I found the genius Advanced Style blog. I’ve spent hours pouring over the content and it makes me feel hopeful for my own future. I hadn’t thought about it before, but maybe I needed to see strong women living boldly. Maybe, somehow, that would give me permission to live like there’s no tomorrow and take care of myself the way I want to.
Advanced Style‘s videos are blowing my mind.
I’m actually looking forward to getting older–to finding out what my direction is, and how to take more responsibility with my goals: focusing on self and community. I’m excited to really absorb what my older sisters have to tell me. Their experiences are my best ally, and I want to use it to my advantage. I’m so elated to be in a place where I can feel grateful all of the time.
My wise role models: My mother, my sister, my aunt Deirdre, Elizabeth, Valerie, and Amalia. Thank you for sharing with me. I love you.