I like wrinkles. The way your face has spent its time written on…your face. Smile lines, frown lines. The lines radiating from my dad’s eyes are white; his face has spent a lot of time in the sun. The wrinkles between my mother’s brows sit inches above the most brilliant smile I’ve ever seen; the paradox seems to declare that these are better times. My grandmother’s face is soft and sweet, a reflection of her personality. That she is also a formidable and commanding woman is evident by the lines she tried so hard to prevent. I can feel the lines around my own mouth deepening, defining, and somehow separating the trapezoid of flesh below my nose from the rest of my face. Its own entity. I wonder if I’ll look distinguished when I’m my mother’s age, or just tired. I’ve decided distinguished, without looking. Confidence of youth?
We’re all going to die, they say. Cultivate relationships and keep your lawn at 3 inches, and it won’t be wasted, your life. Not really my philosophy, but it sounds practical. Truth is, I have yet to develop a philosophy. Well, I believe in Karma—the part where you get whacked for your misdeeds, anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, but this is enough to live by; I’ve done it a long time. I’m not invulnerable; I’ve been whacked—nothing serious. I credit my own inconveniences to the reality that often, what compels me to behave is only the threat of a big fat Karma-whack. I like to think I’m not alone in this. Noble human: selfish in our selflessness.
Thirty going on dead. I’m aging. The realization came when I developed carpal tunnel. My body is failing, already. Horror. I didn’t cry. See? Distinguished. Since then, however, I’ve felt a dull, constant panic at the back of my neck. I feel pressured to “make something of myself.” The clock is ticking, yes, but worse, this pre-prepared purpose requires courage, ambition, strength of character, and maybe talent.
How to best spend the time I have left is at issue. I took my notebook to the pool, today, hoping to draw inspiration from the sound and the smell there, which is always quite powerful: burns my eyes and hurts my head. I sent my boy off to meet his class and took the cap off of my pen. I was wholly distracted, however, by the dad sitting next to me squirming and sighing, clearly embarrassed as he watched his daughter struggle with the side-stroke.
What we do, how we look—is that who we are? I’m angered by my own proposal that identity is so closely tied to the lines on our faces and aquatic prowess (but how else can you explain injectable skin fillers—really). I remembered my dad telling me that my actions reflected on him, and felt a strong urge to grab my son and tell him solemnly that we just need to be loved and we behave in a manner that fosters love and that is the golden rule. The rest is trivial. Failures and facial furrows are guaranteed. Be reckless. Raise Hell, Boy.
I will not say that wisdom and integrity come with age, but somehow a wrinkled face seems more credible than a smooth one. The deep cracks scarring my grandmother’s precious countenance remind me that she’s lived and loved; worried and rejoiced. She’s done these things a long time, and she does them well. I would really like for someone to read this message on my face, one day—to see my wrinkles not as evidence of my impending death, but as an honor—a decoration given for expert practice of the golden rule.