What does it really feel like to watch oneself age and leave youth behind? Do elderly people ever miss being young? Are there things they wish they could have done differently? Are they truly loving the ‘golden years’? Young people often have these types of questions, and as with many other human experiences, it varies from person to person.
Award-winning American photographer, Tom Hussey was caught in a conversation with a World War II veteran. The elderly man said, “I can’t believe I’m going to be 80. I feel like I just came back from the war, I look in the mirror and I see this old guy.”
These deep words inspired Hussey to create an incredible photo series called “Reflections of the Past”, where elderly persons are captured looking thoughtfully at reflections of their younger selves. The concept is something beautiful for everyone to think about, an inevitable look-back that would happen at some point in the journey of life. Let’s try to make it worth the look.
What does it really feel like to be elderly?
I once asked my grandmother how it felt to be 75. She told me not to take her words as her a yardstick- since everyone goes through it differently. According to her, age comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. For the most part, she’s happy, thankful for all she has achieved and built. Thankful for her children and grandchildren who, in her own words, are the best of everything she’s got.
While she’s lived a good life, she’s still scared. Scared that she may not be around for much longer to watch her beloved grandchildren go on to become great people.
And then she’s angry. Angry at the people who act like she’s a baby and can’t do certain things for herself. Angry because she no longer gets as much attention as she used to when she was younger. Angry because she doesn’t look the same anymore and she’s truly not as strong as she used to be.
Again, she feels guilty. Guilty because she entertains these thoughts that mirror ungratefulness. She believes age is something to be thankful for, not a process to be angry at. However, she can’t help how she feels.
She’s wistful sometimes. She wants to be young again. She made so many wonderful decisions but there are a few that she regrets. She catches herself wanting to go back to her youth and explore paths unfollowed. At this point, she tells me to never back down from my dreams and goals. It’s better to try and fail than to never know.
Most importantly, she feels lucky. Lucky because she got to stay this long. Lucky that her life wasn’t cut short and because there’s so much around her to be thankful for.
In Hussey’s words, “As photographers, we have this wonderful opportunity of being able to stop time and preserve it. To capture a moment that we can then hold on to forever, no matter what the outcome may be down the line.”
All image credits: Tom Hussey
- Elderly Persons Look At Their Younger Reflections in This Beautiful Photo Series by Tom Hussey. Digital Synopsis. https://digitalsynopsis.com/design/reflections-of-the-past-tom-hussey/. Retrieved 02-04-2020
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