Time etched in our faces
Flipping over to my recent social media feed, I read a comment from a dear, lifelong friend who tenuously expressed both gratitude and wonder at turning 54 this year. She listed all the things gravity and strong emotions had done to her physical appearance (she is still so beautiful). And yet with each item on her list, she offered a positive. Wrinkles show a life filled with feelings; scars with a life filled with experiences; silver hair sparkling gorgeously under the sun. Through her physical transformation, she has become her truest self, shedding the social media-engineered desire to be oh-so-perfect, flawless, smooth and pure.
Life isn’t pure, and it certainly isn’t flawless. As Juliet Funt, author of A Minute to Think, recently penned on LinkedIn, “I’ve watched people complain in a myriad of locations and circumstances – from around the table at Thanksgiving to dinner parties and work events. Bitterness is bubbling over, and I feel it in myself sometimes.
Are you surprised to see my highlighting of these depressing themes? Does it feel like a downer? I see that but I also know that the only way out is through, and pretending not to be sad and pissed and burned out and exhausted and grieving will never ever relieve one of those states. Especially in the world of work where we all have become GENIUSES at faking it.”
It is not healthy to fake what is happening now, but instead to embrace self-care on levels we may not have ever reached in our lifetime prior. In a recent conversation with a friend, she admitted the issues we face today have been with us for a very long time. It is only now that they are bubbling to the surface – seemingly simultaneously.
It is a lot to take in at once.
In thinking about my lifelong friend’s comment about the way she looks now – as opposed to how she feels about it, which is all-embracing – I look to literature to make sense of it all.
Thinner hair, thicker middles. It shows we have lived indeed. To paraphrase Maya Angelou – we are here to use it all up, every bit of ourselves. Preserving our spirits is the most important thing we can do. The rest? Well, being well-worn, like the Velveteen Rabbit, is a sign that love has wholly poured through us. He became real through the love received. I believe we can too.
We may feel we are losing it at the moment. And perhaps we are. Perhaps we are losing the illusion that all of this will last. It won’t. The only thing that does is the love that has flowed through our hearts and out into the world. That can neither be taken back nor destroyed. It is not possible to love too much. And that includes directing that love toward ourselves.
Be gentle with yourself. You are not alone. We are in this together. Realness and all.