Sunday, July 07, 2013

Elemental, My Dear...




Reading this - The Joy of Old Age (No Kidding) by Oliver Sacks, a wonderfully upbeat treatise on aging - led me to investigate my own age-appropriate element. On the Periodic Table of Elements my age, 67, corresponds to the rare-earth metal Holmium (Ho). Silvery white in color, somewhat soft and malleable with unusual magnetic properties, Holmium was discovered in 1878 in Switzerland and named after Holmia, the Greek word for Sweden (all of which makes me feel rather transcontinental). It oxidizes rapidly in moist air and at elevated temperatures, which certainly explains my sudden wilting in the current heat wave the Northeast is experiencing.

Though only the edges of my hair are turning silvery white, I fit the description of somewhat soft and malleable. I am still jiggly in places that never used to move on their own despite the garden, house, and yard work I document here and I've always been easy to persuade concerning things about which I don't already hold firm opinions. (Even then, there's wiggle room, else what's an open mind for?) I like being considered rare, and the magnetic properties explain nicely why I'm attracted to relationships with, say, catbirds or people that seem to be my polar opposite.

Next year I shall be erbium (Er). Also soft and malleable, erbium has a silvery, metallic luster (I like the sound of that) and, while it is another rare-earth metal, its properties depend to an extent on impurities present where it is found. Considered a fairly stable metal (it doesn't oxidize as rapidly as Ho), it was named after Ytterby, a village in Sweden. Now I'm off to discover if any of my forebears lived in Sweden. There's no end to the discoveries one can make about oneself.

12 comments:

Molly said...

You are hilarious! The last thing I'd expect to read about here would have been how we relate to the periodic table, and which of the elements best describe us....I'll have to check which one is mine this year, and maybe find out all kinds of things about myself I never, or only vaguely, suspected!

Brian Miller said...

ha. you got me curious...i am yttrium...used to make TVs and give views...ha...

June said...

Well, THAT was fun! This year I'm samarium. Never heard of it. It's silvery (okay...) and is used in magnets (God knows I hold onto things, but I thought that was because I was born under the sign of Cancer...). Speaking of cancer, apparently samarium is used to treat cancer.
Altogether, I'm pleased with these thoughts.
Thanks.

Out on the prairie said...

fun to play with

Friko said...

Ha, I always knew I’m special!

rare, blue-grey, corrosion-resistant, refractory!

Hang on, is that good? But if we change every year, does it matter what we are this year?

What fun, and I liked the article too. I’m so glad there IS something good about ageing after all.

Barbara Shallue said...

I love this! I'm off to see what element I am right now at 54! I hope it's as good as yours.

Barbara Shallue said...

Pauline, I hopped over and read that article, and had to come back here to say thank you for sharing it. What a beautiful, uplifting perspective!

Hilary said...

Fun concepts. But I suspect that no matter your age and number on the periodic table, you are always in your element. ;)

Molly said...

Thanks for that link to the article on old age. I just read it now----inspiring!

Murr Brewster said...

Even better, there's nothing better than the discoveries you can totally make up about yourself!

Pauline said...

Molly - the article caught my eye. I liked the idea of reading my horoscope among the elements.

Brian - lol. How do you pronounce that?

June - wasn't it interesting? No end to what we can compare ourselves to! And how fitting yours was!

OOTP - I thought so, too :)

Friko - everything changes every year lol. We may as well, too.

Barbara - I liked the way the guy looked at life :)

Hilary - you made me chuckle. I am in my element - I wonder if that was the origin of that saying?

Murr - you're right. Often times they are better (or at the very least, more fun).


Judith said...

I loved that essay of O. Sacks, Pauline, and am so glad you wrote yours prompted by it. Maybe I'll get to do so too and maybe not --- but in any event, I'll be turning gold later this year.
Beyond jiggling.
Cheers, dear! I always knew you were a rare one.