I am a 63-year-old female human on this earth. This face is the map of my world. Everything I’ve done, and been proud of or sorry for, everything that’s been done to me, everything that’s been done for me, everything… it’s all there on my face.
This culture wants me to smooth it out, to draw back the skin of my wisdom, to wipe out all evidence of the struggles that softened me into a better person, to erase the years of work that resulted in the storm-worthy ship I’ve become.
It wants me to look like a rookie again. Why in hell would I want to do that?Why would I want to look like I know less than I know?
When I was younger, my smooth face was lovely; but it served a different purpose. If you missed it, you weren’t meant to know me then. This face is held dear by the me you get to know now. Every detail about it is precious and has a seat at my table–every wrinkle, every indentation, every freckle, every mole. And it works in both directions, so when I’m looking at you from this place, know that I love your face as I love my own; and nothing about either one of us needs to change.
Let me come at this from another angle.
These leaves, so rich with color, are dying. They will eventually turn brown and mulch back into the soil. None of us fights this. We celebrate it. And whoever can afford it spends lots of serious money to come watch it all unfold.
So, what if we shined this light on our bodies?
Big picture, what’s really happening here? We are dying just like the leaves. Every last one of us. No one escapes desiccation, that terminal cracking free of the branch, and wafting to the ground back and forth on the breath of the wind. We see this as a threat, and throw billions of dollars at it. We run screaming the other direction (as though we could).
Take a minute and think about this:
When we happen onto a tree in the full expression of its autumnal moment, is our very first thought, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a product that can reverse the ravages of time. You can be green again”? Hell no! We bring our cameras. We point the beauty out to our friends. We rake up the leaves and make big mountains so our children can throw their arms out, close their eyes and lie back till they land in that loving, crisp, golden embrace.
I am the human equivalent of the bright red tree down the street from me. My body softens, growing thicker in the middle. My hair is gray and thinning. Lines are showing up in my face, freckles on my hands. The good news is that my eyes have someone living inside them for a change. I still feel really beautiful, just in a completely different way.
I don’t want to be green again. Cancel your ad campaign.
I want to share with you my papaya, fire, mango leaves, my matchlight, my cinnamon, nutmeg, my butter, my sunbright leaves. Make your reservations in advance. Bring your best cameras.
Stand in awe with your jaws slack.
May we all radiate every uncompromising color in the autumn of our lives, if and when we’re lucky enough to get there. May we love everything about us — in exactly the same way that we can’t get enough of the leaves upstate,