What hides in the cellar of you?
What monster do you look after, soothe when it gets afraid of you, feed to keep it alive, yet hide because no one else must know about it… perhaps for the sake of your personal Babadook.
That’s sort of the message I got from watching The Babadook, an Australian drama, horror, thriller, last night.
I have no idea what the film was about. It had so many themes as part of its plot that it was almost themeless. It started out as a tale about a child who was frightened and his fear made him act out in ways which were disturbing for his mother. His father had died on the day of his birth, and this affected both him and his mother. It was a sort of allegory about the ‘monsters’ under the bed, in the cupboard, in tales, which frighten us when we’re children… and evolved into something less child-related, more adult, about the monsters which frighten adults…
[As I was writing this, a hornet flew into the room through an open window – they scare the crap out of me, their buzz is so deep, vibrating echoes of fear]
… then it moved into that very dark territory of the monsters which exist within adults and… which frighten children about the adults in their lives.
One of the ‘monsters’ which can frighten adults is aging.
The Daily Post asked today – If there were a real Fountain of Youth, would you drink the water?
The short and impulsive answer to that for me would be – Yes, of course, I’d drink it! And I’d do it before I read the instructions, terms and conditions, before I noticed there was smallprint.
Before I remembered those books I’d read which built their story around the disasters caused by the quest for eternal youth. Before I vividly recalled those images of the devastation people have wrought upon their physical selves in order to look permanently young. Before I came to my senses and realised that the aging process is natural and when humans mess with the natural order we tend to set in motion the ticking of time bombs.
But, hey… how can one person’s quest for eternal youth possibly cause global annihilation of the entire human race, the planet and everything on it?
I’m the only one drinking this water from this fountain, right? How could that possibly go wrong for anyone but me? And I’m positive thinking myself into it being wonderful for me and everyone else! So it’s got to work out all for the best, right?
A few years ago I turned 40, and to help myself cope with such an event which society often seems to see as the end of days, I decided to do some things to embrace my dotage.
One of those things was to read up on the mythology of the ‘crone’…
I liked what I read and got into the habit of calling myself an old crone. This didn’t go down too well with my female friends who were my age or older. They didn’t find it as amusing and liberating as I did, and one or two of them got very annoyed with me about it.
I soldiered on regardless… I did tone it down around those who didn’t like it… but I still liked it. This crone sister was doing it for herself.
At around that time I happened to make friends with a newly turned 20 year old. This youthfully exuberant soul was in the habit of befriending crones like me and then telling us how much she liked ‘old’ people, she liked ‘old’ people better than those of her age because she was in possession of an old soul, therefore wise beyond her years.
She didn’t see us as ‘old’ at all, she wasn’t ageist at all, even though she kept referring to us as ‘old’, and assuring us she didn’t see us as ‘old’.
She saw us as people… and wanted us to know she saw as that way.
She kept telling me that for her I was the embodiment of the goddess Hekate in her life to bring her youthful old soul ancient wisdom… since I was ancient.
I was one of a collection of token ‘old’ friends. You know, one of those people other people collect and use as accessories to prove their coolness, specialness, different from others of their time status.
It was funny… that kind of funny which eventually gets on the nerves.
But she was young and didn’t know any better because she had yet to experience a perspective beyond her own.
And I was old, had once been young, her age, and I had been as naive at her age as she was being. I had perspective beyond my own. I had also said the sort of things she was saying, had the perspective which she had of old age being something far away, the mysterious unknown, almost mystical.
She wasn’t listening to what she was saying from any perspective but her own – what it meant for her, about her, said about her, her identity, and so on.
Ah… youth! To be forever young… is perhaps to be forever oblivious of any perspective but your own, of any awareness but your own, and that is sometimes quite desirable.
Eventually I got fed up. Old people get fed up with young people like that. We just can’t take it anymore and we get all grumpy.
I kind of like that aspect of not being forever young… I have earned my old stripes, and now I get to enjoy them the way old people enjoyed them when I was young, but I was too young then to understand what they were doing.
If I could be forever youthful… then I’d never get to indulge in the benefits of growing old and using my advanced age as a checkmate.
My wrinkles are my battle scars.
My white hairs are there to remind me of the fears I’ve faced.
My creaking bones remind me not to be as flexible as I used to be, to stand my ground and fight for my right to not effing move.
My fading mind allows me to enjoy the simple things in life without the added complications of things best forgotten, and sometimes being senile makes me smile.
If my smile scares you because my teeth are cracked, stained and used… perhaps that should serve as a warning that grandma might eat you because you’re young, plump with youthfulness, and oh so delicious!