Tuesday, November 07, 2006
10 Wellfleet Oysters and 10 Ways to Stay Young
These oysters, which my friend Jake gathered from the bay in the middle of a heavy storm for his and Laura's annual oyster party are my art of the day. I thought of painting over them, collaging them, adding quotes or pasting shells around the edges. But when it comes right down to it, there's absolutely nothing you can do to improve on a Wellfleet oyster. Except maybe adding a little hot sauce and sucking them down right out of the shell!
For Part 2 of 10 Things, I decided to tackle a topic that has probably inspired more snake oil salemen and self-help books and magazine articles than any other. Since youth looks good and feels good and sometimes even provides the illusion that we will never die, how do we stay young?
10 Ways to Stay Young
And no, I'm not talking about merely looking the part. Or dressing up in leggings and a long sweater that barely covers your butt if you're a woman, or spiking your hair up like a rock star and buying the coolest sunglasses on the block if you're a man. I don't mean finding a younger spouse or undergoing fertility treatments just before the AARP card arrives. Nor am I advocating that you become such an expert on hot trends that you know more about them than you do about yourself.
Many of us who are over thirty -- and some even younger -- have already bought the potions, hired the personal trainer, and seen the hair colorist. And don't get me wrong, I'm not against those things -- as long as they don't consume your life. As long as they don't make you forget that your time here really is limited, and maybe you ought to be using it.
Ironically, the more we worship youth, the more we market it and exalt it and mock it by imitation, the more we deaden its spirit.
How do you define youth beyond its obvious smooth skin and raging hormones and washboard abs? Here's my definition:
1. Being young is discovering that you've just inherited the world and that it's a marvelous one. It's also flawed, woefully mismanaged and seriously imperilled. It means setting out with all the idealistic fervor of Don Quixote to rescue it, to change it, to polish it till its new again.
1 1/2.It's not caring that you are probably destined to fail in all the big ways. It's doing it anyway, and discovering that maybe the "small way" matters more than you think.
2. Being young means its your job to fall in love, and you do it extravagantly and often. You fall in love not only with potential romantic partners, but with trees, with the dark and shiny streets where you walk with your friends at midnight, with the color of the sky when you rise from your bed at five a.m., with a snatch of music that you heard once and never forgot.
3. Being young means you are perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect. You are not too fat, too pimply, too large of nose or legs or teeth, nor too small of breasts or eyes or height--though some may tell you that you are. But believe me, there will come a day when you gaze at a photograph of your young self and be absolutely stunned by its beauty. And you will wonder how you could have failed to see it, to inhabit it, to celebrate it every day.
4. Being young means you make mistakes. Glorious mistakes. Dumb mistakes. Sometimes even the kind of wild mistakes that will cause you to wonder what you were thinking. It's crying and regretting and bemoaning those mistakes until you realize they weren't distractions from the road after all. They were the road.
5.Being young means your body is meant for movement. It's a time for dancing, for running, for being able to do prodigious amounts of work, then collapsing in exhaustion, only to get up the next day and do it again.
6. Being young means you have very little time and less patience for sitting on the couch, watching other people live their lives on TV. You're far too busy with your own.
7. Being young means you ask the big questions.
8. It means you stay up half the night with your friends formulating answers, and then go to bed deliriously tired, intoxicated with possibilities. Even though you know no more than you did before you started. And it means continuing the conversation in your dreams where maybe--just maybe--the real answers lie.
9. Being young means that you see really well, and you hear really well and so you look with all your heart. And you listen the same way.
10. Being young means that you're capable of surprising and rattling and inspiring your world. And so you do! Whether the world likes it or not, whether it listens or not, whether it cares or not. Because this is your time and you're going to seize it.
*And no, it isn't all about age. In fact, some of the youngest people I know had enough candles on their last birthday cake to ignite a wildfire.