Beauty & Aging on a Mountain Lake
3 Minute Read: Natural beauty, aging gracefully, over 40, cabin life, lake life, poetry, spiritual practice.
Sometimes, you discover a poem. Sometimes, she discovers you. This one, for me, arrived on a copied CD labelled with a sharpie from a friend and teacher during my days living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in my mid-20s.
Now, nearing my mid-40s…and living and aging in a cabin on a cold lake with snow moving down the surrounding mountains, I think of it often. It’s called “Weathering,” by Fleur Adcock, and goes this way…
"Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,
happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well
that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among the lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.”
“now that I am in love with a place which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy, happy is how I look, and that’s all.”
I’m not there yet: the happy-looking place. But I am in love with a place that holds all of me, in happiness and grief, darkness and light.
This then, offers hope for indifference to mirrors…and what my soul may wear over its new, ever-changing complexion.