Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Be awake to the stories of the invisible woman ...

The stories I hear from the Visible Women at 60+ project women just blow me away. I am constantly reminded of the resilience, sheer grit and determination of the female spirit. These stories make me think about the order of things and our expectations of what our lives should be like. And how we respond when things don't go as planned. 

It seems that from the day we are born, we are somehow bound by the expectation that life will proceed in a linear fashion - in a line where certain things will occur at certain times. Even if our experience tells us that life is about jagged lines, unconnected lines, curves and circles, we and the people around us derive a sense of stability and comfort from the notion of the linear line. 

Women of my generation have had the opportunity to live our lives in way that would be unimaginable to our mothers and grandmothers. But we had no blueprint to respond to the choices suddenly at our fingertips during the 60s and 70s. We made it up as we went. Some of us fought to retain the linear norms, others broke the mould completely. But one thing is certain. The woman in her 60s sitting quietly next to you in the bus, at work or at a party will have her story. Imagine her life. Have a conversation if you can and just listen. She may surprise you. She will only share what she chooses to, so be satisfied with that. 

She may tell you her father came back from the war a damaged man and as a result she, her mother and siblings lived in an environment of violence, darkness and fear. She may tell you she spent many years in an unhealthy straight marriage and now finds happiness in a lesbian relationship. She may tell you her husband went to jail and left her to raise four young children alone. 
She may tell you she met her husband at 17 and they are still married 45 years later. She may tell you she was called the ugly duckling, was bullied and taunted at school and after three marriages has now found the love of her life. She may tell you that she was only expected to live to 35 because of a disability and here she still is. She may tell you she found love through a virtual world and married her virtual man in real life at age 60. She may tell you of her near death experience and now doesn't fear dying. She may tell you she has survived cancer or that she had a starfish tattooed on her bottom when she was 60. 
She may tell you about the teachings of the Red Skirt and she may say "We ain't done yet, there is heaps more to come".

This project isn't biographical, It's about the how each women feels about the here and now and that is portrayed through their photograph and the words they have chosen to write themselves. The book gives you time to savour the photographs and soak in the words. The most precious thing we have time. 

1 comment: