Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrate beauty and a youthful heart at all ages

In an undated article, "What's Fitting", Sara Davidson ponders age-appropriate fashion for older women. She speaks with Thomas Moore about beauty and age:
"Clarity arrived when I spoke with Thomas Moore, the former monk and psychotherapist who wrote, Care of the Soul. Moore, in his late 60s now, lives in rural New Hampshire where, he says, “we have barns and old farm equipment out in the fields. As the barns begin to lean and the machinery rusts, suddenly the artists come out and paint them. I think that’s true of people as well.”

But then Moore surprised me. He said he supports people’s efforts to look as youthful and beautiful as they can. “I think it’s wonderful to be concerned when you’re older with the Venusian thing — with the body and your own beauty. I’m very much in favor of anything you can do to keep your youthful spirit.”

What about older women who wear tight leggings, like their daughters might? I asked.

Moore smiled. If you can get away with it, great. It’s the attitude that matters. If you’re doing it because you’re afraid of getting older, that might not work. If you’re doing it to celebrate beauty and a youthful heart, I think that’s wonderful.”

Moore said it’s possible to do two things at once: “Age with grace — say, `Okay, I’m going to be older and enjoy it,’ — and at the same time say, `I don’t want to lose touch with my youth.’ Our childhood is always with us, our adolescence is always with us. Youth is always inside us, no matter how old our bodies are.”

In the days following our talk, I came to understand what balance might look like. You can focus on developing the inner qualities that make people compelling and appealing as they age: humor, curiosity, enthusiasm and zest. And you can take care of the outer package, in the same way you would refurbish a historical building so it doesn’t look run down and dilapidated. So it looks its best and its character will shine through."
Although "balance" may be interpreted in different ways, Davidson shares one of Moore's approaches for many situations in life: Don't choose one. Do two or more things at the same time.