I’m tired of this 50 is the new 40 bullshit. I’m tired of 60-something-year-old men dressing up like creepy wanna-be-sexy santas. I’m annoyed with women who have paid for their faces to look like their plastic surgeon applied angry bees to their cheeks and lips. I’m totally into older people who wear their own skin comfortably and embrace the calm demeanour of a slightly stoned (if that’s even possible) Tommy Chong and the flamboyance of Mrs. Roper.
We need to seek out and learn from those who have learned to age gracefully. Much like the fashion icons I admired as a pre-teen, I now have old-lady icons. I’ve already started a fabulous caftan collection, and I’m gonna rock it.
Caftans for me are the perfect sanctuary uniform.
I don’t really need a bra, I can wear undies or not. I can nap and then wander around looking confident, and just crazy enough to give off the gentle air of, fuck-around-and-find-out. Caftans, or muu-muus as I’m often want to call them, are a fashion choice that truly reflect a state of mind. And that state of mind is rest and retreat.
Most creation stories involve a time of rest. There’s a creator or creators, who worked their divine buns off for a specific amount of time, and then took a breather. They rested, and then they admired their work. The work was fulfilling, and the rest was where they found joy. If you look closely at art depicting human concepts of these divinties, most wear muu-muus…or are naked. Please ere on the conservative side and don a robe of some sort…
Needless to say it took me many years of frantic being to recognize the need for rest in my own life. Retreat. Sanctuary. Rest.
Time and space to, ‘sit a spell‘ as my old neighbour Pearl used to say as she patted the space on the cement step in front of her tiny, yellow cottage. Pearl was in her 90’s. I loved just sitting there, taking in the details of her garden with her. The garden itself was smaller than a parking space, but it was a sanctuary nonetheless.
Old people know the value of sanctuary. Or at least they ought to. Elders have an important role to play in the creation of our ethics and values as a culture. I’m convinced the depth of their wisdom is deeper than how to pair tights with tunics and reading lists of how-not-to-wear-your-make-up if you’re over 40.
Rest and retreat are essential to our wellness. Many people of my acquaintance consider retreat as jet setting to an exotic local (or maybe just to Quebec) and spending thousands of dollars to be led by mystic evangelists into a therapeutic jungle where they aren’t qualified to be tour guides.
As I’ve aged, I realize that sanctuary comes in small (and better yet, free) doses, much like happiness:
- Sipping tea after dinner
- Spending time in a hot bath giving thanks to my abundant mid-life body for all that she does
- Allowing myself time to wake gently on Sunday morning, deeply grateful for the comfort of my bed
- Walking the same route in my neighbourhood and witnessing the changing garden landscapes through the seasons
Sanctuary is not the vaulted ceilings of a church, temple or mosque. It can be, but sanctuary exists only if we allow it space in our minds. It is not planning what comes next. And we’re not used to that quiet space of being with ourselves. Studies have shown that people would rather experience small bursts of pain rather than being left alone with their own thoughts. Ouch.
Might I suggest faking it until you make it? Toss your bra in the laundry, slip off your panties. Pull a delightfully light caftan over your head, and then find a quiet place to sit with a steaming cup of tea. Retreat. Repeat.
Leave a Reply