SIGNS OF PROGRESS
I've spent 30 years of my life studying my face in a mirror; I am pretty sure most girls do this, and if you don't, well, I am not really sure why. Perhaps it seems narcissistic or futile, but I find it very soulful and comforting. It's one way I truly find myself, it's as if I am saying "I see you" (please disregard the Avatar association with that phrase, but also, it's exactly what I mean) to myself.
If you tell your friends or sister or husband that you found a new wrinkle today, they will immediately assure you either of your eternal beauty or cast it aside as silly vanity. "Oh you...you're beautiful, stop worrying about it." Well, the truth is, I am not worried, but I am continually surprised when my face reflects my external aging and not my internal youth. I've never been old(er) before, so it's a continually renewing process, this decaying into...what? I mean, what IS old? When my face is sagging to my shoulders with crevices the depth of the San Andreas fault, will I still notice NEW wrinkles?
What brought this on? Well, I was studying my face the other night before bed, lifting and examining and poking and cleaning and looking deeply into the soul of my skin, and to my utter surprise I found two wrinkles above my brow line that were not going away. Now I've noticed the beginnings of laugh lines (who the HELL named them crow's feet anyway?) and fine lines around my lips. I've noticed my sun spots and various other manifestations of the abuse I inflicted upon my skin in my teens and early 20s (seriously, wear sunscreen or a hat...everywhere). But these? These were never noticeable before.
Scrench your face like you're either completely angry or preoccupied with an intense algebra problem. This must be what my soul looks like because the verticle lines above the nose, the ones at the inner part of your eyebrow, these are NOW PERMANENT. I keep trying to stretch my face out and see if they'll go away...or check out my face in the rear-view mirror where the light is better to see if they've magically disappeared overnight... because after all, they magically APPEARED overnight. Alas, they seem to be my new companions this week.
ridiculous picture, i know, but i really wanted you to see it.
I like the idea of aging gracefully...but that idea was semantically defined as aging but being really beautiful. Aging like Helen Murren or whoever else it is I see being beautiful all over the place. I never imagined that I might get ugly. And wrinkles don't necessarily mean ugly, well at least not when I am assuring YOU that you are still super young. ;)
MY ENTIRE POINT IS THIS:
I am fine aging. Even somewhat fine aging in a less than attractive manner. But those wrinkles have to count for SOMETHING, dang it. That's right, these two worry lines sent me into another bought of existential crisis. "What the hell am I doing with my life to have had these lines?!!!"
So, like the big girl I am, I turned around, put my hands on my hips, and answered this question with sass. Here they are:
- I've been studying my whole life to be a teacher.
- I became a teacher and had the courage to know it wasn't for me.
- I then had the courage to enter a career that I knew wouldn't matter in any other way except to provide me rest.
- From that career, I realized that I was an artist and was wasting my time pretending it wasn't true.
- I have tried to learn what that means for me here at home, in the country.
But I was still dissatisfied and I think this is where the "what am I doing" question falls short. It only examines externals. I live so much of my life in rich soulful internals that it seems unfair to aridly analyse in this manner.
I've BECOME someone.
In fact, I've become someone I actually like.
If these wrinkles came as a result of this internal toil, then so be it. I will still examine them nightly, but now...instead of hoping they magically disappear, I will understand that I've done a hell of a lot to "forge a soul amidst great birth pains," and these lines are but signs of my unique and beautiful journey, a journey I've been aware of every step of the way.
I suppose I am no longer fighting wrinkles...but instead fighting FOR them to mean that I am proud of who I am becoming.
quote by ms. sylvia plath