During the last month I have had cataract surgery on both eyes. Nearsighted since I was 9-years-old, receiving clear vision after wearing glasses for 50 years is nothing short of a miracle. Surveying my garden after the operation, the blues of the cornflowers and borage blossoms seemed to jump out at me. Since then many natural images that would once have escaped me are appearing. A delicate winged dragonfly fluttering on top of the lavender. The rhythmic dance of the poppy petals in a soft morning breeze. Sad eyes on the face of the full moon.
However, my bathroom mirror is much more difficult to look at now! How eluded I have been! Suddenly I see wrinkles around my mouth, blotches on my cheeks, all the gray hair on my head, cellulite everywhere but… can it be…on my calves?! The list goes on! How did this happen overnight?
Acceptance seems key here. Of old age. Like 60 which is coming up fast for me. Three years ago I jokingly complained that in all the photos taken of me, an old lady seemed to be there, following me about like a faithful dog. (That old lady, of course, was me!) But I also realize that there are at least two advantages to getting older.
- I can now tell beautiful men that they are gorgeous without worrying about the consequences. That was not the case when I was younger.
- I now seem to be able to touch people more freely. I can lightly brush their cheek, pat their shoulder, even take their hand or hug them. I am more free to physically express my affection, heartache, and compassion. As a young woman, such physicality was impossible as it could easily be misunderstood as erotic, provocative, or unseemly. Now it’s just viewed as an affectionate gesture from a nice old lady.
So, take heart. There are advantages to growing old that you may not have seen yet. I recently edited a marketing piece about branding that included an example from a producer of beauty products. About 10 years ago, the CEO and his staff decided that their strategy would be to convince American women that they were ugly and growing old. That was the intended goal of the multimillion dollar company. To make you feel old and ugly. And they have had lots of money and expertise to achieve this end. Don’t let them win.
Beauty, as they say, is only skin deep. I have tried to look away from the bathroom mirror into one that might reflect my soul. This view can also be bit disconcerting, but I do see some progress and success. I am happier. I am quieter. I am hugging more people. I am more myself.
The recently deceased Lauren Bacall is quoted as saying, “I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” I always like to say, “I once was young and beautiful. Now I’m just……beautiful!” In psychosynthesis terms, I am trying to dis-identify from my body, knowing that it is temporal and constantly changing. I am so much more than just my body. I am pure consciousness and will. And that is something that doesn’t come in a jar of face cream. Consciousness and will is the human expression of God to which we all are born.