The mind’s artist plays tricks as we age

Published 10:45 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

The mind, as you age, is an artist, it seems.

Monet paints your mem’ries, Picasso your dreams.

      ~Robert Brault, Freelance writer/blogger

I read this quote recently and it certainly rang true to me.  I think it does to many of us.  We look back over our life and over the years we can refine our memories, putting a more positive spin on them—the Monet painting, everything is lovely and positive—depending on the intensity of the memory of the experience.  Sort of like the fisherman who tells the tale of the big fish he caught that grows bigger with each telling of the story.  The Picasso painting distorted and strange.  

Quite frankly, as in the quote, my dreams are often Picasso-like, where my recollections in the dreams are “out of whack.”  Strange appearance, strange setting, incongruent with the memory or emotion that my brain is trying to play for me.  And I have some crazy dreams in great detail.  

I often say that “gittin’ old ain’t for sissies.”  I wasn’t the first to come up with this saying.  Evidently, the actress Bette Davis said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” I believe this to my core.  While my body has given in to the ageing process, my mind is more resistant, or at least trying to be.  I’ve observed older adults who look “old,” and I try not to give in to the look.  I try to stand up straight and try to put a little pep in my step.  Often it takes great effort, and often I don’t succeed.  But I’m gonna keep trying.  

When I worked with college students, I made a great effort to remain as young-at-heart as possible and stay abreast of the latest trends in music, technology, etc.  I knew about swipe right on Tinder to accept or swipe left to reject early on.  I was “with it.”  I am less so now, but I do pay attention to the latest trends.  

When you get older and look in the mirror, it is often your mother or dad looking back at you.  The gray hair, the double/triple chin, the nose.  In my case, I favored my dad (think nose) in looks growing up, but now as I’ve aged, I favor my mother.  Mostly the eyes, I think.  Even my brothers have said as much.  

While wearing masks during COVID, I became very aware that no one would be able to see my smile or colorful lipstick, so I had to up my game in the eye make-up department.  I did a little research about this and found that “tadpole brows”, a term used to describe brows with too much weight at the start of the brow followed by a pencil-thin tail, were no longer in fashion.  And that’s what I had—tadpole brows.  So, I experimented by filling in my brows to make them look thick and “boxy.”  I looked like Eugene Levy whose eyebrows are so legendary that they are said to have their own publicist!  Not the look for me, so back to tadpole brows.  

Although I am no expert on ageing, my advice for ageing gracefully includes realizing that your golden years can be your best years.  Accept your age.  I’ve read that you should count your age by friends, not years, so stay connected with your pals.  Pay attention to trends and be accepting of change.  That’s the hardest for me. 

Do things that bring you joy—reading, hobbies, volunteering, travel.  Try not to manufacture drama—live as stress-free as you possibly can.  Try to get enough sleep.  Naps are beneficial.   Take care of you.  Go for check-ups, stay active.  Everything in moderation.  Be flexible in mind and body.  Count your blessings.  Make your home your sanctuary.  Be grateful and acknowledge your acquired wisdom that comes with ageing.  Seek whatever support you may need.  It’s smart to ask for help.  Be intentional.  May your mind provide you with more Monet than Picasso.  Enjoy life!

 

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.