Becoming your own essence

Toronto Globe & Mail's Karen von Hahn wrote a provocative column, "Forget the fountain of youth- just age like a fine wine" in today's paper.

"Right now, everywhere you look, self-transformation is the name of the game. No matter who you are or what you care about, just being yourself means you're not trying hard enough.

Smart women who never banked on their looks to get them to the top of the heap have whitened their teeth, liposuctioned their thighs and enlarged their breasts to look like CEO Barbies..."

She lauds the opposing strategy, that of "becoming your very own essence, aging like fine wine or stinky cheese":

"The best ones, like the late Georgia O'Keeffe, sculptor Louise Nevelson... or the still rocking Patti Smith stuck hard with themselves. And as a result, exude the kind of powerful charisma that can come about only through a gradual ripening into their own self-acceptance."

I agree that there's too much pressure to "transform", to relentlessly pursue "a better you", and above all, to not look your age.

And I don't see it as an either/or choice. I applaud the friend who learns a new language (kudos, Carol), volunteers for a month at an orphanage in Thailand (cheers, Carolyn), or just changes her hairstyle after 23 years (smokin', Alice!)

For me, the deciding factor is whether our initiatives come from a place of desperation and fear or from the wish to live, learn, contribute.

Photo of Louise Nevelson: Jack Mitchell


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