Do you ever stand and face a mirror for no other reason than to see who is looking back at you? What do you see? Is your face the sum of all your experiences, a tale of a life well lived? Do you see the person who went through all those trials and tribulations to get to where you are now? Or do you see every wrinkle, grey hair and unwanted feature that taunts you?
See the ones who didn’t make it
When you stare into the eyes in the mirror, do you curse the dark circles beneath them? Look deeper into the laughter lines at the corners of each eye. Who did you laugh and smile with to make them appear? Do you remember the childhood friends you giggled with in the primary school playground? Teenage companions you stayed up late with, putting the world to rights. Hiding from teachers, laughing at ridiculous jokes only a teen could find funny.
Do you try in vain to cover up the lines and hide the grey hairs that accompany them? Or do you take a moment to think back to those who made you smile who didn’t have the privilege of seeing their own faces age? We’ve all lost people on our path through life. It’s sad to lose a grandparent or elderly relative, but sadder still are the losses that come too soon.
A life ended in the blink of an eye at the hands of a drink driver. Sudden illness when you least expect it. The agonising wait and hope for a recovery that never arrives. One who suffered in silence through mental illness until it all became too much and they took their own life. Every one of them was denied the honour of ageing, of seeing those grey hairs and laughter lines form.
Imperfections make us who we are
Who would we be without our imperfections? Without the stretch marks and saggy skin on my stomach that I hate, I wouldn’t be a mum. If the the laughter lines that give away the age of my eyes were absent, I wouldn’t be a friend.
A little extra body fat around the middle keeps me warm on the wild swims that make me feel so alive. Every scar is a memory. Learning how to ride a bike, and how to fall off. Snorkelling in clear waters above beautifully coloured fish and getting too close to the rocks. Nights out that got a little too raucous. Canyoning, white water rafting, sky diving, caving, kayaking, horse riding. Never saying no for fear of getting injured because eventually the cuts become scars, and scars fade. Leaving only reminders of good times and bad.
I look back at the person in the mirror and put down the makeup. I won’t hide who I have become. Ageing is a privilege. Wrinkles tell a story. Grey hairs, scars, imperfections. They are a part of me as much as the thoughts, stories and memories inside. I think of the ones who didn’t make it this far and carry them with me. Displaying them on the outside for all to see.