Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Knowledge of All Ages

Do you ever feel like you should be moving forward but you don't know how or when or where?  During times when I don't understand why something is happening or not happening, I find it comforting (in a strange, still slightly frustrating way) to know that someday this will all make sense.  I try to rely on faith, trust that there is something larger at work, and let go (a little bit) of my need for control.  My eyes look forward down my path through life, but I can't always see very far ahead.  However, I can look back and see how far I have come, all the things I have learned along the way.  I can understand these lessons once I have some time and distance.

The idea of present and past, of what you know now and what you knew then, is so fluid because we are constantly changing and growing.  Most of you know that I read a lot of magazines for inspiration... I recently came across two articles that pinpoint different ages through the lens of the knowledge we have in the present, the experiences and thoughts we had in the past, and - though not always spelled out in black and white - how all these pieces make us who we are and bring us to this point in time.

Shape's February issue highlights women from age 9 to 99, showcasing all of their strong, beautiful bodies and offering a quote from each about self-esteem and beauty.  (You can see the photos and quotes on the Shape website too!)  The article reminds us all to "Amaze yourself" as 9-year-old Cece Poli does and "Treasure your health every day" as 99-year-old Esther Tuttle lives out.  Other women talk about how they reinforce their own self-esteem.  They suggest to practice positive thinking, defy other people's expectations, refuse to be invisible, don't compare yourself to others, see your strengths, never stop moving, focus on what your body can do, and be confident.  These pieces of advice are based on what the women know now that they have reached a certain age, a level of experience, a point from where they can look at the sum of the present and past.


Then in Real Simple's March issue, in an article "Age to Remember," six writers reflect on a year of their life, one they would consider a "very good year."  (You can read it on the Real Simple website too.)  We get glimpses into different moments in time... age 4, 12, 18, 38, 50, and 64.  I thought it was interesting how a 70-year-old writer wrote about the year he was four years old, while a 64-year-old wrote about when she was... well, 64.  Francine Prose (great last name for a writer), the 64-year-old contributor, wrapped up her story beautifully, and with hers being the last of the six featured pieces, it also stood as the end of the whole article.  It was what the reader is left with...  She writes, "When I say that I wish I had known at 24 what I know at 64, I couldn't mean it more.  And yet I realize that such a thing could never have been possible.  If that knowledge is what people mean by wisdom, I'll take it."


It makes me consider what I know now that I didn't know when I was younger.  I remember the times of worry and confusion, the times I didn't understand what things meant, the times I wanted to know how everything would work out.  It makes me wonder about what I will know in the future that I don't know now at 26 years old.  I have a tough time with the unknown that lies ahead. Sometimes it seems more dark and distant and scary than other times, but I trust that when I get there, I'll realize how and when and where... and most importantly, why.

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