Last week, Ruth wrote about a phenomenon that spoke to me: Women, after age 49, become invisible. (Coda: Not to each other. There is still awkward judgment involved in our interpersonal interactions, uncomfortable sizing up — “Is she as far gone as I am?” — that seems to continue until about age 65, when all but the most vain of us finally settle down into the reality of our looks. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.) I’ve got no problem with that. In fact, as I wrote in the comments section, it is oddly freeing.

Women spend most of their lifetime being judged on their looks. Fact. When, suddenly, the world seems not to care anymore, it can be something of a relief. Will anyone notice if I don’t put on makeup to go to the store? Probably not. Cool; that slices three minutes off my (obviously not terribly arduous) “getting ready” schedule.

At six feet tall, I’m used to being gawked at. Used, even, to being called “sir,” “dude,” even “big guy,” from a distance or to my face. But while I don’t mind disappearing as a woman, I’ve never had any interest in “showing up” as a man. It is hurtful to be desexed in public. Invisibility is infinitely preferable.

Invisibility has other plusses, too. It allows long, intimate stretches of “alone time.” What better way to get to know one’s self — deeply, truly — than enforced solitariness? And at 50, it is high time to find one’s self, if one hasn’t already done so. Also, as Ruth so ably pointed out in the comment section, it’s rather nice to disappear from the radar of advertisers and the media. They never authentically cared about me, anyway.

But you know who does care about me — about all of us? God. Becoming invisible deliciously accentuates this. The world may not see me, but God does. Without the distraction of the world’s eyes on me, I can focus more readily on my Creator. I can begin a renewed relationship with God, something richer and deeper than anything I’ve experienced before. God loves me post-50. God loves that I know myself better, that I’m starting to really think about the essentials of life — and less about my career, my status, my appearance. God is here for me in my journey. And I don’t miss being seen by anyone else. The most important eyes in the universe are on me. I am basking.

The last dance, the final shedding of our lives on earth, is still to come. That’s a dance we must all each undertake alone. I thank our youth-obsessed culture for withdrawing from me; I embrace invisibility, because it gives me needed practice for that final dance. Just me and my God. And that (to reference another song) really is the way I always heard it should be.

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