Forward From Here by P-SimonSchuster


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									Forward From Here
Author: Reeve Lindbergh

In her funny and wistful new book, Reeve Lindbergh contemplates entering a new stage in life, turning
sixty, the period her mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, once described as "the youth of old age." It is a
time of life, she writes, that produces some unexpected surprises. Age brings loss, but also love;
disaster, but also delight. The second-graders Reeve taught many years ago are now middle-aged; her
own children grow, marry, have children themselves. "Time flies," she observes, "but if I am willing to fly
with it, then I can be airborne, too." A milestone birthday is also an opportunity to take stock of oneself,
although such self-reflection may lead to nothing more than the realization, as Reeve puts it, "that I just
seem to continue being me, the same person I was at twelve and at fifty." At sixty, as she observes, "all I
really can do with the rest of my life is to...feel all of it, every bit of it, as much as I can for as long as I
can."Age is only one of many subjects that Reeve writes about with perception and insight. In northern
Vermont, nature is an integral part of daily life, especially on a farm. Whether it is the arrival and
departure of certain birds in spring and fall, wandering turtles, or the springtime ritual of lambing, the
natural world is a constant revelation.With a wry sense of humor, Reeve contemplates the infirmities of
the aging body, as well as the many new drugs that treat these maladies. Briefly considering the risks of
drug dependency, she writes that "the least we [the "Sixties Generation"] can do for ourselves is live up
to our mythology, and take lots of drugs." Legal drugs, that is -- although what sustains us as we grow
older is not drugs but an appreciation for life, augmented by compassion, a sense of humor, and common
sense.And of course there is family -- especially with the Lindberghs. Reeve writes about discovering,
thirty years after her father's death and two and a half years after her mother's, that her father had three
secret families in Europe. She travels to meet them, learning to expand her self-understanding: "daughter
of," "mother of," "sister of" -- sister of many more siblings than she'd known, in a family more complicated
than even she had imagined.Forward from Here is a brave book, a reflective book, a funny book -- a book
that will charm and fascinate anyone on the journey from middle age to the uncertain future that lies

Chapter 18. Vanity, Gravity, LevityI've often hoped that as I advanced in years I would also advance as a
human being, "every day, in every way, getting better and better," as the old saying goes. I've even
secretly wished that as a very old lady I might become a truly saintly individual, like one lovely old woman
I used to know. She was almost incandescent with goodness, having spent a selfless life helping others
and never uttering an unkind word about anybody. She had a beautiful face, and beautiful hands softened
by innocent old-fashioned lotions that smelled like roses, and yet she seemed to be entirely without
vanity.I've also thought it could be interesting to go in the opposite direction and turn into a little old Holy
Terror. I've known a couple of those, too.So far, though, I just seem to continue being me, the same
person I was at twelve and at fifty. If sainthood or deviltry is my destiny, then destiny is taking its own
sweet time, especially in the "getting better" department. Though I try to be friendly and polite and
generous and thoughtful, as my mother instructed her children to be, I have many faults. I know I'm not
selfless, for one thing.At sixty I'm just as self-indulgent as I ever was, possibly more so. I put extra butter
on my English muffins, I paint my toenails bright red in winter even though nobody can see them but me,
and at certain times you will find me lying on my bed reading a book when I should be sitting at my desk
writing one. I try not to utter unkind words, often because they generate a kind of troublethat is both
painful and time-consuming. But never? How I wish that were true!Vanity may be less of a problem than it
was forty years ago, though I can't take much credit for that. At this age, what choice do I have? When
my late sister, Anne, turned fifty she told me, "After a certain age, there's only so good you can look."
Anne was a beautiful woman all her life, so to hear her say this made me smile, but I understood what
she meant. One reaches a time in life when the attempt to look gorgeous requires an effort greater than
any results it can possibly produce. That's when it makes sense to make friends with reality.I find that I
don't mind looking at my face in the mirror anymore, except maybe in the middle of the night -- that can
be scary. I've "grown accustomed to my face," to paraphrase the song Professor Higgins sings about
Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. I'm not only accustomed to my face, but I've also become quite fond of it.
This is a very different feeling from the one I had at twenty or thirty or even forty, when I worried constantly
about its faults and flaws. Maybe I care less now than I did then about how I look to other people, or
maybe I know from long experience that most people ignore our imperfections because they are
concentrating upon theirs.Furthermore, I no longer have the good eyesight and steady hands to do what I
did every single morning when I was twenty. I would stand in front of the bathroom mirror trying to hold an
eyelid still with one hand while brushing eye shadow on it and then painting a tiny stripe of eyeliner along
the lower part, just above the eyelashes, with the other. This was a complex process, especially for a left-
handed person with questionable fine motor skills. I would find myself in a complicated self-hug, elbows
crisscrossing over my chest like the gesture that went with a song we used to sing in summer camp in
the fifties:I love myself. I think I'm grand!
Author Bio
Reeve Lindbergh
Reeve Lindbergh is the author of several books for adults and children. They include the memoir of her
childhood and youth, Under a Wing, No More Words, a description of the last years of her mother, Anne
Morrow Lindbergh, and Forward From Here, a memoir about entering her sixties. She lives with her
husband, Nat Tripp, and several animals on a farm in northern Vermont.<br/>

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