Research has been clear, embracing a positive view of aging can improve our quality of life and even extend our lifespan. Yet we are constantly being bombarded with anti-aging and other negative messages about getting older. A Kaiser Health News article suggests that one way we can counter negative views related to getting older is by seeking encouraging images of living our best lives as we age.
One powerful and inspirational way to fill our lives with positive images of aging is through the arts. Art can move us in ways that no other form of communication can accomplish. Healthy artistic expressions of aging can be a game-changer for all of us. Art really does have “The power to change the world.”
Poetry is an artistic form of expression that can be especially potent for reframing cultural attitudes and beliefs about aging. Poetry can replace negative language, attitudes, and beliefs about aging with ones that are associated with power and force.
One of my favorite local poets, Helen Laurence, crafts uplifting poems that sometimes reflect the joys of aging and offer all of us a reason to celebrate each passing year. With her permission, I’m sharing one of her poems with you; this one was written in 2008. (Please note, the format was adjusted for this platform):
vision unrestricted from dusky asters
to the distant Cascades
layer on layer opened by showers
we accept joy
into brimming senses
autumn ablaze where breezes stir
cottonwoods flaming gold into
skies piled purple on gray on blue
we twirl to wisdom
promises in seasons
“Much of my poetry and other writing springs from my passion for nature. A favorite technique is to create open webs of words which can be read in many directions, preferably performed in chorus. I am currently completing work on a book about shared women’s land communities.”
A Call to Action
If you are reading this post and can also share poems, visual art, music, or other artistic expressions that can help reframe aging as a positive period of change and opportunity, I’d love to hear from you. I hope to share other creative ways we can celebrate aging. At some point, I’d like to put together a virtual celebration of aging and then perhaps a physical celebration where artists, speakers, and others can help reframe what it means to enter a potentially productive and beautiful period in our lives.