“The first day I came home, I hung colourful Indonesian batik on the mirrors hung on the walls by an interior architecture to make the only room look bigger. I just left the one over the sink without any cover; every time I entered the bathroom, I saw a man who was looking at me from that mirror and making some signs as if he knew me; who was fat, a yellow and pale man. I really hadn’t seen that man before. However, he was always there in the mirror; he came across me as soon as I opened the bathroom door. From time to time, he sent me smiles in a way making me crazier. He continued talking to me in his own way, never getting desperate. He kept telling me that he was me. He told me that we knew each other for almost 60 years. In this way, I slowly have got used to that fat, pale and “new me” with no hair.” Tiziano Terzani, One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round
“How are we getting on with mirrors? How are we getting on with change which is the only thing that never changes looking at us from the mirror? Does opening space for this while everything seems to be going on in a usual way prepare us for the times when change is fast? Can I realize that I am, in fact, new every second?”
This writing is one of the invitations to think about given to us by dear Fulya Karakoç, who facilitates our reading group where we come together to talk about “One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round” by Tiziano Terzani. Whereas Tiziano Terzani talks about the physical changes he underwent during his cancer treatment, Fulya asked us: “How are we getting on with change which is the only thing that never changes looking at us from the mirror?”
I am getting old. My answer has started with this word. The thing I see when I look at the mirror is my facial wrinkles without botox, becoming more apparent as I am 50, the white and black appearance of my hair I quit dying last year due to my hair’s getting white excessively and the creasing of the skin on my neck. If you think that the things I have written are repairable, I have more things to add: having an 18-year-old son who graduated from high school( when the hell did he grow up ?),the reduced state of my energy compared to that of 5, not more, years ago or a series of extra medical tests and examinations recommended due to my age…
I am particularly writing these. If you are following me, you know that there is something I frequently repeat. I am insistent on using the word death. I pay special attention to my avoiding the word death while speaking or writing as I know that no matter how my using another word instead of death makes me feel better for that moment, it will never change the reality of death. I have started to think about the same thing about old age. I am getting old. Although getting on in years is correct in meaning, the use of it just not to say one is getting old doesn’t seem right to me. I am getting old.
I have started to hear similar comments from my friends and acquaintances almost my age. We are bewildered at our situation. Since my 20s, I have worked with the elderly in different periods of my life and spent time with them voluntarily in many projects. I have a look at my previous writings on getting old (derki.com/ruhsallık/yaslanmak/) and I can’t say that I haven’t thought of getting old. Now I am also in it. For the ones who have similar feelings, you are not alone.
To me getting old has a grief. I take every opportunity to state that I don’t consider grief as an issue to deal or cope with, that grief doesn’t only come with death, that it doesn’t go anywhere, and that if we were to mention any change, it would be our way of keeping grief (accommodating grief as a hostess). While writing this, my intention is not finding solutions to feel better about getting old, interfering with the dye of your hair or botox, or, for the sake of easing, saying “everybody is getting old, never mind”. This is not an analysis writing, either. Perhaps you start reviewing your life after reading this, but that is your choice. My intention is to look at my state. What I am talking about is realizing the sharp and momentary pain formed in me after thinking about how fast I’ll reach 60 as I know that time flies when I see 50 in front of me.
I am getting old. I prefer staying with this fact and what it makes me feel. I don’t give or receive any advice.
The things once regular for me have already started to change. My solid(?) facts and routines I rooted on without realizing have started to need new adjustments gradually. Here is why I have the pain; the loss of my regulars I know and love and the understanding that my old/new regulars will be in a rapid change in the rest of my life. No doubt one part of me knows that this is a fact for all humanity and my other part is astonished about the health issues added to the conversations I have with my friends and my new life order. I look at the photos posted on social media accounts of my friends I have known for a long time. I see our transience which has become more apparent in the faces of my kith and kin.
I welcome all these changes sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a laughter and sometimes with confusion and sadness. While my 30s and 40s meant just a number, I see that being 50 echoes differently in my soul. It means that I have a threshold. I face an inner resistance whose rebellious part I can feel though it tries hard to be well-behaved about this age. However, as soon as it understands what it resists to, it sees the meaninglessness of the resistance. Then only then, there comes grief. Grief, as usual, teaches leaving no space for escape.
There is a grief period my getting old has invited to my life. Whether to attend it actively or not is my choice. It is up to me to accept grief as an initiation period and trust that it will integrate all my losses inside.
As Terzani says mirrors tell me that we have known each other for 50 years. I know and I love the face I see as it is, but, all the same, the rebellious resistance inside me says “Time, you are cruel”.
Yazının Türkçe versiyonu: Yaşlanıyor olmanın yası