I put filters on photos all the time. Some folk think it’s cheating. Others couldn’t give a flying fuck. Others still say it’s about creating your own reality and that’s an everyday essential (and sometimes radical) act.
I’ve realised it’s time to put filters on things I hear, too.
I’ve realised there are times I’m going to have to use small-talk and unsmiling eyes to get through conversations. I’ve realised that people who don’t speak to me with their heart; people who instead speak with fear, agenda or negative conditioning, those people need me to adhere to their script in order for things to play out.
I’ve learned that some people can’t cope with my truth and that’s OK, because I have no intention of coping with theirs.
Those people are happier with, ‘It’s all downhill from here’, and, ‘out running to try to hold back the years?’ Or, the ever dreaded and deep as a puddle in a summertime piazza, ‘life’s a bitch, then you die…’
For them, among other things, ageing is binary. It’s either good or bad. At a push for nuance, it’s ugly.
My truth? I’m not dreading being forty. The only strong feeling I have about it is that I’m genuinely glad to still be alive. I have much to do. I run and eat well most of the time so I can get to fifty, sixty, seventy, eight and ninety; not so I can look thirty again. I’ve known several people who died far too young. Scared to be forty? Scared to be any age? Computer says no. Heart says no. Head says no. Logic and experience say ageing is a privilege. Nothing less. And wrinkles? Not half as scary as the thought of living life in the shadows of inevitability and shame drenched dogma.
Sometimes, I have learned, my mouth is going to have to laugh and my eyes are going to have to roll in jest. Because we can’t change other folk can we? And we can’t be on guard, all the time. We can only change ourselves. If I spend any more of my time getting exasperated about the negativity other people choose to direct towards me, I’m not going to have time or energy to do all the wonderful and necessary stuff. So, I’m applying a filter. Some words can get in my ears and hang around for a moment and then, pop, as soon as they’re gone, they’re gone. The filter eliminates them. I no longer permit them an echo.
And the people who talk to me about life and clearly love it, maybe not every second but most of the time? They get my heart. They get my laughter lines and my genuine smile. They get my time. They get me to put down my pen, lean in and let their words decorate my thoughts. They get echo and reverb and bass. They’re few and far between, but those privilege-aware people who don’t need me or themselves scared? The folk I can turn all filters off with? Turns out they’re the best birthday gift at every age.
If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy a prize winning piece I wrote entitled Vitruvian Woman, for the simply wonderful Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre in Somerset. You can download the anthology of collected work via this page. My piece is about the friend who likes you better when you’re smaller; the kind of friend in need of dealing with via a filter, in my opinion.