Mortal Lives

I never put much thought into the wisdom years of life, as I have been chasing youth since before I was even a youth myself. Society instilled into my consciousness that youth was everything. Young people were all-powerful, and most influential. That image of skin that never ages, a gleaming white grin, toned physical structure and energy that trumped all others. This is what I thought immortality looked like. I was nothing more than a silly little sproutling feasting on naiveté.
When I think about it, I was force fed propaganda, glossy superficial magazine spreads, the who’s who goss of celebrity lives, the overpriced and unattainably anorexic sized runway fashions, and the McDonald’s television commercials that depicted awesomely perfect 20 somethings running on a beach playing frisbee after enjoying a Big Mac and Super Sized fries, apple pie and large diet coke. As appealing as all of that nonsense was, it was unhealthy, unrealistic, and in reality, a Super Sized lie.

It all is just shiny, glossy, fear mongering wrapped with a pretty little bow. Fundamentally it is a societal mental health crisis.
I was in the same boat as many mortals on the planet, I was scared to death of death. Being scared of death makes ageing really unappealing. There are hair extensions, eye brow tints, collagen injections, Botox, nips and tucks here there and everywhere, anything that may halt death in his tracks. Deception again. I haven’t tried all of these wonderful death-defying tools, but I could have been on my way if I didn’t WAKE UP!

Image of Guenevere Measham by Dimitri Tsapkinis at UNCSA 1994
Image of Guenevere Measham by Dimitri Tsapkinis at UNCSA 1994

Being a teenager wasn’t all the commercials made it out to be. Maybe it was the perfect time for some people, but it wasn’t for me or my misunderstood companions. How could I be understood when I couldn’t even understand myself? I missed that point, another bit of proof that teenagers are not that clued in. We were awkward, we had acne, bucked teeth and growing pains. We had parents that didn’t have a clue, teachers that just wanted to inflict misery upon us, and no one seemed to understood our true omnipotence and creative genius. Why couldn’t you see that we were so brilliant, beyond anyone ever to walk on the earth before us? We knew it all, and then some. This is painfully true, and so painfully teenager-like. We were confused, we were in constant heart ache like many badly acted soap operas of the late eighties. Come on, Fantasy Island. I shall be right there. I was more like Adrian Mole, in angst and confusion and embarrassment of the tragedy of teeneragerdom. (Check out The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend- it is hilariously funny!) I had no idea who my authentic self was. Massive declarations could be made one day, and the next day I would decide that I was sorely mistaken, and I would declare another identity. I am sure this is not everyone’s teenage experience, but for me, these were some of the most agonising, ridiculous and dangerous years of my life. So why had I glamorised them? I think I was still chasing what you had, what you looked like, judging your outside appearances with my fragile insides. What society had programmed me to believe immortality and perfection looked like was definitely not me.

Was it really all that bad?

Okay, it wasn’t ALL bad. In certain ways, it was the rite of passage that started to unfold the largest chunk of my life. My true authentic self was hiding in there, and let out little sparks from time to time, usually the parts I shied away from. But, those sparks of authenticity become cornerstones of my true self later on.  Some may think of that as digression, but I see it as the parts of myself that were always there, always wanting to shine whether I knew it or not. Young minds are able to imagine such great things. They have an extraordinary faith in their abilities and don’t see the limitations. They have passions and desires that are so true to them, that they feel will always be there! Add a lack of common sense which could lead to dangerous or risky choices, but if directed and encouraged this passion could be harnessed to become monumental change in the world. A star is born. Ready for anything. No ceiling on their future. Endless possibilities. The qualities I tried to keep with me for the long haul are these early seeds of passion that were born. I tried to let go of the not so awesome personality traits, kicking and screaming at times. The beauty in all of this is that I am a bit better at discerning what to keep and what to leave behind. What wins and fails I encountered are what made me into who I am now. This can only be moving closer to my authentic and best version of myself.

Fast forward 20 years. I am a mum. My eldest child will be moving into adolescents in a flash, and I am now putting to rest those outdated beliefs. I don’t need to chase youth to see the tops of the daisies. It used to feel that way. Either we are young, or we are dead. I know, it’s macabre. So I have adjusted my view of youth, mainly from the “punch in the face” perspective gained from being a mum. I see how my kids view youth as the barometer of awesome. Old people just aren’t as hip as hipsters, as epic as Ed Sheeran, as sick as Sam Smith, or as cool as the Clash of Clans, Okay? I understand why it seems that way to them. I was them. So were you.

One thing I completely missed in this whole story was what worth I placed on experience. What value I placed on wisdom.

Wisdom is what I chase now. I keep my ears to the ground, I love discovering new stuff, seeing young talent emerging, being physically active and being excruciatingly silly, just ask the kids. I thrive on new experiences and knowledge. I am enamoured with world breakthroughs in science and the understanding of the human mind. I am fascinated with the world, I am in awe of the galaxies, I am humbled by the mysteries of the deep. I love being alive. The passions of youth are the beauties worth holding onto, when accompanied by a drop of wisdom. I don’t think I could appreciate the real value of life until now. So, to be honest, the best years are these. I get to appreciate all the phases, all the decades, and witness my own children as they learn to walk on their own. Perspective is gold, and as far as being mortal is concerned. If I was not mortal, I wouldn’t appreciate they importance of living each day to the fullest. I would take life for granted, and not see the value of this precious gift we have been given. There is no way I could have seen that at 15. My scope is panoramic, and my vision is becoming 20/20. I listen to the wind and I live in my heart. I say thanks everyday and I ask how I can help the world be a better place. I’ll never take life’s precious gift for granted again. Those times have passed, and new times are here for the living.