I have to admit this is not a new piece of writing, but it is one that is close to my heart. I revisited it today and found it to still be something I feel very deeply. I am sharing it again because I like it and want it to be read, but also because I need to remind myself of this truth.
I turned 36 a few months ago and my vanity is in overdrive about it. There’s a nest of grey forming at the crown of my head. Cheese is my waistline’s enemy and I can’t eat pizza anymore without feeling an immense amount of shame and even more heartburn. I’m getting older. I can’t escape it.
My knees creak, things pop when I attempt to run and I say things like ‘I don’t get the way kids these days talk’. I’m no longer cool, but I’m coming to terms with it.
I feel a quiet grace growing within me. It looks like patience, compromise, standards and discipline. It also looks like kicking up my heels and not giving a lick who is watching. It looks like a woman owning her flaws and her fabulous. It looks like me being more than comfortable in my 36 year old skin. And it’s about damn time.
Enjoy yourself. Take the stupid selfie. AND POST IT. Smile. Laugh at yourself. Eat the pizza anyway. Just remember the anti-acids!
I woke one morning at 5:00 am and found myself thinking of ‘Benjamin Button’ – the premise of the movie being a man who is born a wrinkled, old, baby sized person and ages backwards. I often think of this concept…of being born feeble, brittle and slow, but then growing into a vital and strong being at 60.
The idea of regressing in form and feature until life is over in an allegedly innocent stage of infancy is fascinating. Especially enchanting is the idea that at the height of beauty and grace, one would also find oneself wise and certain of the wholeness of their being. All the painful insecurities of 16 would be far-gone after one had lived to be 80 or so.
Yet this is not how we are designed. We come into existence full of need, unable to communicate beyond tears. We are sponges at first – only soaking in and then regurgitating what is put into us.
We know nothing of who we are; we know nothing of why we have been born or how to navigate life. So we learn – by example, by force, by nature and nurture, by heartbreak, by tears, by disappointments, by great achievement, skinned knees and kisses, by candlelight and in the blazing sun…we learn.
Then just when it seems to make sense, just when we are seasoned, wizened, gentler, kinder, openhearted and prepared for life and loving we realize, as we look down at our hands and into the mirror at our faces, that we are old. The time is short, but during its passing we rushed it. We could not wait until we could…, we could not wait for…, we could not wait. We hurried, we rushed, we were late, we were wasting time and we planned the next before the now was done.
The joy and carelessness of youth was spent pining for the freedom of adulthood, young adulthood was full of plans, wishes and strife for the solidity of affirmed personage and then midlife, the humdrum, the road to retirement. This could not be the life intended for us. The ‘hurry, hurry, hurry and then wait until death’ rhythm is not all there is to existence. It cannot be.
Perhaps when I am old I will stand in front of my mirror, look down at my wrinkled, arthritic hands and smile a lined smile…knowing that I was no sponge, I was no clock-watcher, I was no runner of a rat race.
Maybe I will be able to look at each sunspot, each mole, each crevice as a memory of a sunny day spent admiring this amazing creation. Perhaps the soft ghost of a touch of a lover’s fingertips will return to my consciousness and I will smile in commemoration of when I was young and beautiful to behold. Or maybe I’ll view the ruts of my face and recall my well-earned tears…spent and spilled for the beauty and pain and struggle and sweat and perseverance of a magnificent journey.
No, maybe I do not want to die in an innocent and blank page of infancy after all. To rewind the cruel trick of time makes for great cinema and daydream fodder. Yet the reality of our creation and the way we seem to physically expire as our interiors grow and flourish is like a window into the meaning of the age-old question – ‘why are we here?’.
We could possibly be here just to become beautiful – like Benjamin Button – only the allegory in that tale is that it is our centers, our hearts and our souls that we adorn as life goes ever forward. I’ll take that.