Over the weekend, I read one of Nobel Prize in Literature winner Annie Ernaux’s (pleasingly short) memoirs. I felt drawn to explore her work, having spent much of my childhood in a part of rural France, neighbouring the Normandy of which she writes. The Nobel prize was awarded: 'For the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory'.1
A few pages in, I was struck by how the cool, detached description of the photographs, objects and habits of another’s lifetime could bring me into such vivid contact with my own. There was something about this approach to examining a life within the context of a history that reminded me of some of the themes in the latest issue of Thresholds, with its special focus on menopause (and peri- and postmenopause).
The bodies that we inhabit today carry all that we have ever experienced. The menopause tends to bring that into sharp focus. This life stage calls upon us to sit with a transition for an indeterminate stretch of time, and to witness ourselves stepping into the unknown. In an honest and embodied portrayal of perimenopause (which has the same unflinching quality as Annie’s writing), Emma Palmer writes about this process in Midlife rebirth.
Stella Duffy, too, speaks of embodiment. She approaches the menopause from an existentialist and Buddhist perspective, and points at the peace that can be found in embracing the transitions. You can listen to the podcast of my conversation with her or read the article on the Conversations webpage.
Nina Kuypers writes about her work to ensure that black people are represented in discussions about the menopause in Journey, and reflects upon the importance and sense of connection that are to be found in hearing stories from people who look like you.
I experienced editing this journal, and the correspondence and conversations that took place with the authors to do so, as an opportunity for deep reflection about what it means to live in relationship with cycles. Not just menstrual cycles, but the cycles of a lifetime: phases, seasons and life stages.
1 https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2022/summary/ (accessed 12 October 2022)
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