Life in the Boomer Lane, distracted by the political mayhem being perpetrated as we get closer to the 2016 election, has neglected her #1 goal in starting this blog: writing in an authentic, powerful, hilarious way about the aging process and the role of boomers in that process. For those readers who haven’t fallen asleep during the previous overly-long sentence, LBL has some good news for you. An alert reader sent LBL an article from the January 2016 edition of Real Simple magazine, titled “The Art of Aging.”
The daughter of writer Julianna Baggott decided to create a piece on the deterioration of the body for her art school sculpture class. She needed a model. She asked her mom to send her photos of her breasts. Baggott’s first response was a predictable “No.” Her second was to have her husband photograph her breasts and send the photos to her daughter.
LBL must, at this moment, insert her own two cents. Like many moms throughout history, LBL, herself, has done certain things she never thought she would, all in the name of supporting her children. She would detail some of them, but that would change the entire focus of the post and would give her beloved offspring the opportunity to roll their eyes and remind her that whatever she did didn’t erase years of Hot Pockets dinners and being forced to bring bags of home-popped popcorn to the movies.
To continue: The photography session provided Baggott, age 45, with yet one more opportunity to dwell in the Land of What-the Fuck-Happened-to-My-Face-and-Body?, a territory many women enter in their 40s and don’t exit until decades later, when either their macular degeneration or cataracts reach a point at which they must depend on memory to know what they look like. And memory is usually kind, indeed.
Baggott didn’t exit the Land of WTFHTMFAB, until her daughter texted her a photo of the finished art project. LBL has often said that great art, any form of art, teaches us more about ourselves than it does about the artist or the subject matter. Baggott’s daughter’s project: “a rough wooden roof, lit from within, protected a sculpture of (Baggott’s) torso…and where the womb would be, a kind of nest and delicately broken eggshell.”
The art wasn’t about sagging breats or loss of the ability to procreate. It was, for Baggott, “about shelter, the body as safe haven. It was about motherhood and childhood, both. It was about creating home and leaving home.”
Baggott saw herself anew in her daughter’s work. Will she continue to occassionally visit the Land of WTFHTMFAB? LBL believes she will. LBL, 23 years Baggott’s senior, knows for a fact that there are still many unhappy surprises that await Baggott, as she looks in the mirror in the years to come. But she also believes that Baggott’s visits will be shorter in duration and will include a perspective that hadn’t been there before.
The mirror, friend and foe to all of us throught the years, is, like everything else in life, a creation of our own reality. The power of art, both the visual and the written, is that it can help us to see the “reality” in any number of ways.
Those of us who start the new year with lists of resolutions should make the mirror #1. To see what is there and what isn’t. To see what makes us think, “What the fuck?” and to also see what gives us strength and what soothes us. To know that we are our own works of art, ever-changing and dispensing wisdom when needed. The years will be only as kind to us as we are to ourselves, and the mirror will reflect back to us only what we project.
Have a glorious, mirror-filled 2016.