Friday, June 5, 2009

Pimples and Wrinkles

It's an ordinary tuesday, like any other day. I climb out of bed, put on my robe and slippers, and pad into the bathroom. I turn the faucet all the way to hot, hold a washcloth under the stream of warming water, and meet my own gaze in the mirror. There she is. Same ol' mug as yesterday, and the day before. Except... what the... Oh, no. You've got to be kidding me, I think. Seriously? Seriously??

It's a pimple. Right there, on the forehead, little left of center. Come ON, I think. I'm too old for this. I am thirty-two years old. In fact, I am not only too old for pimples, I am old enough for wrinkles. I lean in closer, straining to see myself clearly with my aging myopic eyes. Yep, there they are. Tiny, fine lines, right there beside the eyes, and a stubborn vertical crease between the brows, a result of years of habitual squinting. I stand tall, pulling away from the mirror. I sigh. Pimples and wrinkles, at the same time... doesn't seem right. That just seems like too much ugly on one face.

I ponder on this injustice as I brush my teeth (the teeth, thank the Lord, are still good). Suddenly, through a mouthful of toothpaste, I laugh. And I laugh. And I laugh some more. How odd... I seem to have the worst of both worlds, stuck between adolescent awkwardness and middle-aged malaise! Pimply adolescents, as I perceive them, still have most of their lives ahead of them. They have a lot to learn. They're usually not quite sure who they are, and they stumble through life with precious few tools, breaking things as they go, learning lessons and making messes. And those who have soldiered through and arrived in middle-age or beyond, as I perceive them, have established some things for themselves. They are no longer preoccupied with pleasing all people at all times (they have, no doubt, learned that such a goal is a waste of invaluable energy). They not only know who they are, they no longer wish to be anyone else. They boast the beauty of a mosaic - a masterpiece of broken pieces, arranged and rearranged into something lovely, though the brokenness remains.

Pimples and wrinkles. Awkwardness and assurance. As I rinse my mouth and blot my face dry, it all makes sense. Of course I should have both... This is me. Learned and learning. Established and evolving. Grown and still growing.

Too much ugly on one face? Maybe. But at least it's an honest image. I'm just sayin'.

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