Sometimes I think how odd it is that my life is still measured in school years. How, for 9 months of the year, nearly everyone in the world is 17 years old. But I age.
Before work yesterday, I sat in the chair at the physiotherapist’s office facing a mirror while the twenty-something therapist put my shoulders through a series of diagnostic tests.
When I am confronted unexpectedly with my own image, it is always a little jarring.
This old woman.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an image of myself as a twenty-something. Or even forty-something. I know what I look like. I know what bits of me look like in the magnifying mirror when I clean my skin or cover the broken capillaries on my nose with green concealer, and the sallow tint of the thin skin under my eyes with purple. The closer one looks, the more one observes the decomposing of the image: like a Seurat painting.
Perception creates reality. Realities.
I am becoming/have become a patchwork of colors that are as incongruous as childhood memories; where everything only creates the whole with a good deal of perspective. Perspectives. What makes sense today, may not make sense tomorrow. Today I accept the woman in the mirror. Tomorrow I will do my best to ignore her – the pathetic crone in fine clothes. (“Why are you even trying?”)
Distance. Imagination. Maybe I have become so complex that one needs to step back to take in the whole? Maybe I need to step back.
And step up.
Over the past few years, I have seen a lot of older women in the gym. The skin on their arms, stomachs, and legs tell me their age, but at some point, I stopped judging them by their skin. And by that, I mean that I have stopped looking away in fear: “This will happen to me”. No doubt because it has already happened to me.
Now I observe how they balance elegantly on one leg as they tie a shoelace. I see the taut muscles under the lax skin. One literally needs to look deeper to see the strength and beauty.
And I admire them.
Maybe it makes sense that as we age one needs to take a step back to see the beauty. Not to obscure the details, but rather to appreciate how the details accumulated over a long life work together to create a whole.
Like a Seurat painting.