The Core of Life and Aging – Metaphors for Living as seen in a Turnip and a Red Onion – TYLN – v8-40

by Sheila Finkelstein on October 19, 2012

I posted the following “Metaphor for Aging, As Seen in a Turnip” in a blog post over three years go. The experience of it resulted in an exercise used in subsequent sessions of the Through and From The Lens course. Participants interact visually and viscerally with their cameras and self-selected fruits or vegetables.

It started with the turnip below after it caught my eye in the supermarket. I bought it as my example for a class the following week.

Turnip Top Originally it was the circular brown lines that I believed most attracted me. It made me think of the wrinkles that were appearing on my skin.

By the time I got around to photographing it, the whole outside had “aged”, puckered and had many more wrinkles. This reminded me that unless we pay attention to our health and wellbeing, it could deteriorate faster than we’d like.

On the other hand, when I immediately cut the turnip in half, right into the center, the way I usually approached my life,

Turnip Inside

I saw that a vibrant circular structure of the healthy cells remained in the center, radiating out.


Turnip Bottom and Quarters

When putting all the parts together, I noticed a wisp of “chin hair” (another sign of age) resting on one of the turnip quarters.  Then for composition I set the segments up to demonstrate photographic balance. I realized after that it could also be a reflection of balance in our lives.

Thus the components of the blog post three years ago.

For those of you who might feel something is missing without a more colorful photo in Treasure Your Life Now, I’m adding a totally different image.

It’s a never-before published one from one of my 2008 onion series.

Totally different in appearance, though bright and vibrant, it too, as you can see

red onion with greens behind

was at the end stages of the vegetable. The greens in the back are what started growing out of the deteriorating onion.

An Exercise for You with a Self-Reflecting Query
I invite you to choose a fruit or vegetable that catches your eye.
Peel it. Cut it. Act in whatever way you are so moved.
Then step back and away from it, looking/experiencing the action(s) you took.

Is there anything in the experience that you see which relates to the way you are living your life?

Relationship Tip
If you are in a relationship with someone, including yourself, which is feeling “old” and “stale”, I invite you to take it apart, so-to-speak. Open it up and look inside the relationship, or person, to find fresh, bright, shiny new aspects to it.

As always, have fun, and please post what comes up for you in the COMMENTS section below.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy Hively October 20, 2012 at 3:59 am

Dear Sheila and all. I love watching transitions of life. Some may search for the magic fountian of youth as we age. I find such grace in allowing nature to “just be” within and without our being. As I have aged myself, I have learned to stop comparing myself to others (this is so difficult for women) Isn’t it?

I now see beauty where a little line may be or as a woman who has Lupus, I also see the reddness in my face a symbolic meaning to make sure I am taking care of myself the best I can with out judgement.

My food just today that I noticed, was a head of lettuce that was getting a little rusty and soggy in the refridge. I took it out of it’s bag, washed it well, removed the outer layer and soaked it in ice in a large bowl. After a few hours I took out the head of lettuce and dryed it well.

What I noticed was the color had brightened, the crispness returned and it made for a wonderful salad. It would have been easy to toss it and do so because it was no longer as young and fresh as when purchased.

Life is the same way. We can think our life has gone way beyond the expiration date or we can choose to look at what benefits us in that very moment that keeps us fresh, crisp and of great benefit! What a great reminder to look for ways to be kind to ourself and all living natural beings…


Sheila Finkelstein October 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Cindy, What a thoughtful and revealing response. I love what happened with you and your lettuce and how you transformed it, it transformed.

“We can think our life has gone way beyond the expiration date or we can choose to look at what benefits us in that very moment that keeps us fresh, crisp and of great benefit!”

Your statement reminds me of one I came across, a quote of mine, an observation at the end of one of the short videos on – “When we wipe away our own failings we can still be shining.” I had started out with an onion that was mildewy on the outside. The one video can also be viewed on

Thanks so much for contributing such value to this conversation.


carolyn gabb May 29, 2013 at 10:31 am

I just reread Part I of the Unpeeling Onion..and realized I don’t have part II. I have much news but will wait til I can focus on a longer message. Know of course that who you are, the wisdom you share, the images that you share — all influence my life, my courage, my hope.
Much love,


Sheila Finkelstein May 30, 2013 at 10:36 am

Good to hear from you, Carolyn. Can’t wait to read about all your news. Regarding THE RED ONION STORY, Part 1. I titled it that way thinking I would do another “story.” Part 2 has yet to happen, if at all. I have bits and pieces of more on onions (and garlic) scattered throughout the blog. Doing a SEARCH for “onion” in the search box on the right brings up,

Enjoy. And, much success to you in whatever you are up to. I do look forward to the details, plu.

Sending much love back.


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