An Excerpt from the Summer 2006 Issue of White Crane
You’re not happy about your appearance, and are considering plastic surgery. Some of your friends are for it, others against. Finally you decide that you don’t believe in reincarnation, you only have one life to live, and you want your outside to match your inside. Anxious, eager, you go under the knife during the long Labor Day weekend, and take a week off on the other side. “Oh my God!” your coworkers say when you get back. “You look fantastic. At least ten years older.” You’ve been coloring your hair gray for a while, but the new wrinkles around your eyes, the added creases in your cheeks, and the enhanced wattle beneath your chin are so sexy that you get cruised on the street like you’ve never been cruised before. “It was worth it,” you tell your smiling best friends over dinner. “I wish I’d done this a long time ago.”
Whatever age you are right now, take off all your clothes, and look into a mirror – in a world where Age = Beauty. Frankly, a hard stomach is only half-formed. Your pecs won’t be ripe for anyone to sink their teeth into until they’ve drooped. And if the flesh on the bottom of your arms doesn’t sway when you swing them, your beautiful elderhood will have to be grown into. Get used to being ignored when you enter rooms filled with handsome older men, bald and gray and magnificent. Accept the fact that you’ll be walking down the street feeling invisible for a while longer. You’re going to age like fine wine, slowly, but doing the following things may augment your inner fermentation and prepare you for your own luscious future.
An elder is like a mighty tree, with a ring for every year of his life contained within his gorgeous aging body. As you move through the world, pay increasing attention to older men, and allow yourself to feel and know that you are part of a tribal chain, going back through history, linking elders and youngers, a chain which helps to hold the world together.
Whatever your age is, find a mentor, a man at least ten years older than you are. Spend time with your mentor on a regular basis. Take him out to lunch in lovely places, buy him small things that will enhance his physicality, and treat him the way that you would like to be treated when you’re his age. Bask in his beauty and wisdom, and be open to his guidance.
If your mentor has no heirs, no children, show him by your integrity and devotion that you are a worthy recipient of anything that documents his life as a man who loves men, such as photo albums and old love letters. These you will cherish, learn from, and one day pass on to your own spiritual son or sons, along with material from your own life, so that the tribe of men who love men doesn’t have to reinvent itself, over and over again, in each generation.
If you laughed your way through this piece, because you don’t believe a word of it, look at yourself in the mirror again. Stare into your eyes and know that if you’re lucky and live long enough, your butt will droop, your belly will hang, hair will vanish from some places and appear in others – all of which will herald your mature perfection in physical form. And if you think or know that you will not live to have an older body, remember that anyone who stands near the doorway out of this world ages and ripens into wisdom and grace no matter what his age is, and becomes an elder for all the world to honor.
And if you still don’t believe that when you are older you will be beautiful, cherished, admired, and turned to for guidance, ask yourself why not, and ask yourself what it will mean to you to cultivate these ideas, and invite your own inner elderhood to blossom within you, day by day.
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Andrew Ramer lives in San Francisco.
He is the author of the gay classic Two Flutes Playing (now available from
www.gaywisdom.org) Praxis is a regular feature in each issue of White Crane.