Internal Landscapes – Reflecting about Aging
As I move into and through my elder years, I often reflect about what I really still know and remember, and about what I think I know and remember, and why these processes become more blurred. I pay attention to whether I can pay attention, to whether I can still retrieve names fast enough to be socially adept, or whether my mental math skills are holding up well. I mourn the loss of my old intuitive skills and wish I could see them return. Self-absorption is taking new forms.
Visions of my own brain lighting up with a truth or a delight are contrasted with images of “The Plaque”, or with an imagined glimpse at the failure of my old reliable neurons to fire. I sometimes wish I could bring up my own brain waves on a screen. I take the cliché of “looking inward” seriously. I’m playing with the concepts of “brain raves” and “synapse lapse”.
My musings have pointed me to a new way of getting my head around this matter: I paint. Creating abstract images, as internal or inner landscapes, helps bring into focus the questions I have about how my brain is doing now, and how it might do as I continue to age. The creation of images on canvas is non-verbal. The paintings are not gray like the subject of gray matter would suggest; they use light, color, shape, line, texture, negative space, balance, contrast, movement, and unifying forms to create unconscious motifs. As these motifs appear, both my questions and my answers begin to reveal themselves:
- Are my internal processes of thinking, feeling, and experiencing still vital?
- What do my memories mean to me intellectually and emotionally?
- Which of my deepest memories will never fade?
- Which memories, layer upon layer, are lost?
- Are some of these lost memories retrievable?
- How can I find them, and do I want to?
- Do I have some memories that are so repeated as to be institutionalized?
- And other questions…….Questions are more important than answers.