That probably sounds like an odd heading for a blog post in a world obsessed with anti-aging products. What is even odder is that this statement came from a young woman. Even odder yet, is the fact that she is 23 and NOT plagued with some life threatening disease. This statement did not arise from hardship or imminent death. This statement is the result of sensible thinking from a young women who understands that while people do have an expire date, they do not have a best before date.
I present to you a short blog that will keep you thinking for a long time.
Thank you Caitlin for your wise beyond years words.
I was in the drug store today buying sunscreen in preparation of going to Miami and I was overwhelmed by the number of anti-aging products in the skin care aisle. The products promise to minimize wrinkles, reduce sagging, plump up and firm up our faces. The hair dyes promise 100% grey coverage. We as a society are terrified of aging. We idolize youth.
When I see the face of a woman four times my age I do not think, “Those wrinkles are unattractive. Why has she not dyed that grey hair?” I think of all the smiles and the frowns, the worries and the joys that have made those wrinkles. Of all the life that grey hair has seen. My Nana lives in Ashcroft, in the desert of interior BC, where there are these dry, sandy hills. When you first see these hills you’ll probably find them barren, worn down. But they grow on you and in time you begin to see a beauty in them. “I see the lines in the hills,” Nana tells me. “These lines remind me of the faces of old people. These lines have a story.” The story of raising our parents and then raising us. The story of triumphs and of failures. The story of watching society rapidly change and struggling to keep up. The story of loving and of losing. In these lines there is a wisdom our society so desperately needs right now. And yet, we are spending so much time and money trying to erase these lines. We think we are invincible. We will conquer the world. But we are not invincible. We are entwined within our world.
Nature is beautiful, and we as aging human beings are part of that nature. The face of an elderly woman is one of the most incredible things I can think of. Why should she hide this face? She should not be made to feel embarrassed by her lines. As you may already know I almost never wear makeup. In part, I’d just rather sleep in. But the main reason I don’t wear makeup is that I don’t believe I should have to. I think the world and all the people in it are beautiful. Why should I hide my face behind cosmetic products? There is enough deception in our world. Every morning when I greet the world (admittedly sometimes with a grumble, I don’t do mornings well), it is with my face. My skin, my eyes, my smile. My face is not perfect, but neither is that rock or that tree or those hills. And I think it’s those imperfections that make life so interesting and so beautiful.
I hope that I laugh enough in my life that I have deep crows feet around my eyes. I hope I am able to express my sorrow and that this, too, will carve its way into my face. When my hair is grey I will not dye it. I will embrace it. I will say, “This is who I am. This is the life I’ve lived.” I hope that my children and my grandchildren will learn from my lines. Learn to love the world and respect balance and cry when they need to but laugh whenever they can.
The next time someone asks me what I’d like to be when I grow up, I’m going to say “Old.”