Making a Point. Or Two.

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.

2 Replies to “Making a Point. Or Two.”

  1. it’s right there, unhidden I think. does beauty come from the physical, no matter how deep, but from the life itself? or if we do focus on the physical, then grant grace to everything. do we see less beauty in a tree broken by chance or age? my own line here rephrased for you – is your life not poem enough? that’s how I’ve always seen you Ren.

    another notion I feel ripe – mosaic. how a broken thing can be made anew, repurposed from the pieces gathered up. emotionally especially that seems right to me. (go read “Finding Beauty in a Broken World”, Terry Tempest Williams.)

  2. Wonderful that you see older women in the gym…I never go to a gym! But I have noticed that I no longer examine myself for “flaws” the way I once did. I abandoned that scrutiny long ago, around the time I had toddlers (they are in their 30s now). There’s something like beauty but other than the beauty-norms we are fed through various socio-cultural outlets. I embrace my inner crone, but no one sees me as a crone. Yet, anyway.

    If I live long enough, though–the time is coming. I may as well accept that. You, too. Learn to love her: the Ren-crone. 🙂


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