Sunday, 17 July 2011

turning 45

yesterday was my birthday, and i'm now 45 years old. which, of course, reminds me of this:

which i have constantly running in my head. i spent my birthday at turoa, on a ski-camp for muslim girls, but more about that another day. today, i'll reflect on being 45 (and 1 day).

in previous years, i've taken the opportunity to reflect over the past year on my birthday. but i'm not much in the mood for doing that just now. i'm more into thinking that i'm now truly middle-aged, and it's beginning to show. despite the young woman at a stall in malaysia telling me that i look more like a sister to my daughters than their mother. i know she was flattering me to get a sale, and i'm also sure she was able to say that because she couldn't see my grey hairs.

there are a reasonable number of them now, mostly near my face. since i cover my hair, they really don't bother me too much. but even if didn't cover, i don't think i'd want to hide them by dyeing my hair. each one of them is a symbol to me. a symbol of lessons learnt, experiences gained. they represent the tears i've shed and the nights i've lain awake. they represent the years i've been on this planet, and the wisdom i've gained just by being here, watching, doing, learning.

each grey hair is precious to me, and i want to celebrate them all. in the end they represent life itself. i have grey hairs because i am still alive after 45 years, i've lived long enough to age, and how can that be anything but a wonderful thing? my grey hairs connect me to the people closest to me, and the number of years i've been able to share with them.

i couldn't bear to cover them up, and i refuse to take on board all those messages telling me that signs of aging are terrible things that need to be hidden. no way, not at all. they are a celebration of life, they are an essential part of our natural selves, they are old friends to be welcomed with joy and embraced, to be worn with pride.

the irony is that mine are hidden. but soon i'll have the other signs: wrinkles and creases, maybe age spots. because these are visible, people will react more to them & i wonder how that will go. i guess that's one of the benefits of hijab: it builds immunity to negative reactions. but that immunity is built on inner confidence, on a firm belief and a sense of this being right. i know i'm right about aging as well, regardless of what other people think.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Happy birthday! Yes, I regard myself as thoroughly middle-aged now, and it's a good place to be.

w.r.t. grey hair, mine started appearing when I was about 32, and I think I am fully grey now. I started dying it when I left my last job in NZ before moving to Australia. I had gone to see one of our managers to talk about a particular issue, and he greeted me with, "Christ, Deborah! You've gone grey while you've worked for us!"

I laughed, and said "Thanks, Jim." I got on very well with this manager, so it didn't occur to me for a moment to take any offense. That he felt he could make such a comment was probably an indication of the strength of our regard for each other.

In the ensuing discussion (with a lot of laughter) we agreed that I would dye it an outrageous colour. I enjoyed the new colour so much that I have never reverted to my old colour. Previously my hair was brown, but now it's very red, and I love it.