- @ CYNTHIA ADINA KIRKWOOD
I'm Old, and I'm Proud
(This piece was first published as a guest blog on an author's website on May 16, 2018.)
An elderly relative from Belize visited my family in New York when I was 4 years’ old. By example, my parents taught me to respect old people, even revere them. But this relative seemed ancient to me. She looked older than anyone I had ever seen in my young life. On her face, the wrinkles had wrinkles.
“I look old, don’t I,” she asked unabashedly. I thought it, but I wouldn’t dare say it.
She didn’t give me a chance to answer her question.
“You’re going to get old someday,” she said.
I screamed inside myself: “Maybe. But I’ll never look like you.”
She said, “You’ll look just like me.”
She must have been at least 100. What a blessing it would be to live that old.
Now, I accept the fact that I am old. And, what’s more, I am proud to be old. When I was in my 50s, I wrote about buying and working land in Portugal. I described myself as defying age. Why should I defy age? Definitely, I was trying to prove something to other people. Now, I am comfortable with having nothing to prove to others.
I am embracing my age.
At this point in my life, I don’t have to please anyone but myself. Let me repeat: I don’t have to please anyone but myself. This is liberating.
In my novel, Turn On, Tune Out, the protagonist, Angelica Morgan, is 30 years’ old. She is a well-traveled, well-read woman who composes music. Angelica is on her way to being accomplished, but she is not there yet. Even though she is an independent person, she is still young enough to want to please people. Because of this desire, Angelica will make some big mistakes, mistakes which happen after the book’s ending.
Recently, my teenage son told me that I am judgmental of people. At first, I became defensive. And then, I realized that I have had a lot of experience with a lot of people. In the past, I ignored my intuition and often gave people the benefit of the doubt. I’m less likely to do that now. I can see how that would seem that I am judgmental. But the truth is that I just listen to and trust myself now.
When I have begun to say that I am old in conversation with friends and family, they barely let me get the words out of my mouth before telling me that I don’t look my age.
“Sixty is the new 50,” they chime in.
I’m insisting now on being given my due. I’ve earned my age. Please don’t try to snatch the years away. All of my life’s joys and sadness contribute to making me whom I am now.
I’m happy to be me.
The best thing about being a writer is being wholly and truly me. . . at any age.
Who Should Read Turn On, Tune Out
Artists are essential for our spiritual survival. If you believe this, then this novel is for you. As readers reclaim their belief in their freedom to think, I hope that they will appreciate composers and musicians and painters and sculptors and actors and writers even more. And if they are artists, I hope that they will be inspired to create even more.
About the Author
I am old enough to forget some of my work, writing, and educational experiences for my CV. Born and raised in New York City, I now live in rural Portugal. Turn On, Tune Out is my third novel.
About the Guest Post
Since finishing Turn On, Tune Out, I seem to be going through an intense period of personal revelation. It could be because writing fiction is writing about oneself. Or it could be my age.