Old men's eyes are like old men's memories; they are strongest for things a long way off.
I have a friend who is an artist. She once told me that she loved drawing the faces of old people because of the beauty of the lines in their faces and the wisdom in their eyes. I suspect that German photographer, Dietmar Temps, would share this sentiment. Modern society, at least in North America, seems to have a horror of old age. That's sad because many old people have such beautiful faces. They are faces that are lived in and the beauty of humanity is what illuminates them, not the passing beauty of youth or of make-up or glamour. I often look for photographs of old people online to use on my blog. Today, when I was doing that I kept coming across photographs by Temps and thought I would share a few here. For more, go to Temps' photostream on flickr or his website. Temps' photographs of old people are primarily close-up portraits of a singular beauty.
Portrait of an old woman (Dietmar Temps, flickr creative commons)
Rembrandt was another artist who saw the beauty in old age and painted it often. I can remember seeing a Rembrandt show in 1970 when I was still in high school. It was in the days before the huge mega-shows and my boyfriend and I were able to get as close as we wanted to Rembrandts profound portraits, many of old people, including himself. As caregivers, we must remain aware of the beauty and humanity of those we care for. Sometimes, it isn't easy to see past the demands of daily care, the grumpiness, the boredom, and the pain to see that beauty. Sometimes, it's easy to see. Sadly, in a culture that disparages old age, old people may hate themselves for growing old. That's sad. What is a gift, however, is the work of photographers, such as Dietmar Temps, who see and record the ephemeral beauty of the old.
I don't know what this old Chinese man is looking at, but I loved this photograph because it reminded me that, as long as one can retain a sense of the wonder of the world, one is never truly old. Finally, here is a poem Beautiful Old Age by poet David Herbert Lawrence. Old age has its beauties and its discomforts and inconveniences. Try not to lose track of one, while struggling with the other.