What the Ancient Sequoias Can Teach Me, a Woman, About Aging

Society can celebrate aging. It’s possible. People may even venerate the elderly as keepers of ancient truths and sage advisers. As long as I, an aging woman, stay silent and out of public view in a dark, damp forest.

The only sound I should make is the rustling of my branches in the wind. That way, people can credit me with whatever wisdom suits their purposes, especially in terms of in-office teambuilding, the marketing of medication, and regressive politics.

Society can marvel at growth rings and deep lines of age. There is no need for me to use fancy equipment or creams to diminish this natural record of time and weather. But only if I’m basically completely hidden or locked within bark.

I do not belong in Hollywood. That is not my natural habitat.

Rather than “out-of-touch,” society may view me as in touch with something deeper and more profound. Of course, people will only respect me for this untold realness if that realness remains untold, because that’s a big conversation and people are very busy trying to get their kids to stop whining and just finish the hike.

On Instagram, I can certainly be a backdrop in other people’s stories. Posting a picture with me, people can demonstrate their sensitivity or showcase some cute new hiking gear. They are happy to use me as a sign of their oneness with nature and history, as long as I never pose with a dog dish and am basically a mute, wall of green.

Society might herald me for aging gracefully. People may even compliment me for my polish and refinement, as if I’m a ballerina in a primordial dance. Of course, I cannot actually dance, especially on TikTok, because that would apparently be embarrassing. Unless I’m Dolly Parton or it’s super windy.

People will hopefully visit me. But definitely not more than a few times each year. No one would expect more since the forest can be kind of creepy.

In the public’s opinion, I have two appropriate styles of dress. I can either cover up in all seasons, wearing flattering tunics of dark green and midnight blue. Or I can appear as a quirky bear carving.

Society is very interested in ancestry. They want to know about their past and they might see me as witness to and evidence of their history. With me as a model, they can also acknowledge the significance of the life cycle, birth and death, renewal, and the end. But not in a sexual way because that would be disgusting. So hopefully I reproduced by dropping a branch which then sprouted as new growth.

On Twitter, I can joke about dating Pete Davidson. That’s funny and fine as long as I’m clearly joking. Because no one wants to think about the fact that my pinecones are actually sex seeds.

People love it when I bake but not when I get baked (in a forest fire, obviously).

People will care about my well-being as I age. They might wonder if I’ll make a sound when I fall. But they absolutely won’t be there to hear me themselves. Again, they are busy. I belong with others of my kind and a support staff of insects and squirrels.

People may honor me when I’m gone. They might write poetic tributes to me or display a picture of me as a sapling. That’s also when they might invite me permanently inside, displaying my remnants on the mantle or as a wood slice coffee table.

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