Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wrinkle In Time

Even though we have 2 professional photographers in the family (myself and Hubby), several very good hobbyists and various picture taking fanatics, it is very rare that anyone ever takes a picture of me. And when they do it is often terribly unflattering or embarrassing.

So most of the time I am forced to take pictures of myself. This task really leaves me the only option of producing the dreaded "myspace photo".

You know the one...

Hold the camera at arms length, point it at your face, strike a pose and hope for the best.

Yeah, so try that with a 4-5 pound camera/lens combo a few times and you can see how uncomfortable and annoying it can be.

Anyway, I was on a kick a while back with doing daily self portraits, but after about 15 I lost interest. It was just too difficult to get a decent one without a remote. There is only so much you can do from 2 1/2 feet away.

But every now and then I need to take one; in recognition of my birthday or a new hair color - such as the one I took last Thursday.
Not a bad shot - and I of course love my hair.

But unfortunately, the things I do see in this photo are kind of depressing.

I see my age creeping up on me.

Now, I know I am not that old yet, but I am definitely no spring chicken. It's just that my face is really starting to show it now. My once smooth skin has wrinkled in way more areas than I notice on a daily mirror inspection. If I zoom in to that image above the results are a bit frightening.

I know not everyone is going to get that close to me of course, but since I don't carry around a hand mirror and check my reflection in every possible light situation, I can only assume that sometimes (and probably more often than not) the "face" I am putting forward is probably somewhere close to the mid point or lower on the good skin day/bad skin day scale. The wrinkles, the dryness, the imperfections can not be hidden by good lighting and Photoshop fixes in my daily life (oh how I wish I could keep a clone tool in my make-up bag!).

So, I am left with a decision. Face my face and embrace it and learn to love my wrinkles, or fight like heck to delay the aging process for as long as possible.

I remember sitting on a restaurant patio one sunny afternoon in Phoenix, Arizona. A family was seated at the table next to us - mom, dad and a few kids. The kids were probably elementary and middle school aged, and the parents probably close to the age I am now. The mom was striking - long blond hair and beautiful features; her skin a rich, deep Arizona tan. She was extremely wrinkled on her face and arms, no doubt from years of sunning and outdoor living. And I recall mentioning to Hubby how pretty she was, despite the wrinkles, and how I hoped that if I were to wrinkle that way that I could make it look as good as she did.

My mom never really seemed to age much until recently. She held on to her smooth skin and youthful looks well into my college years. Even now she still doesn't look her age. I look at pictures of her from when she was my age and I think she looks a lot younger than I do now. And at that time my dad was a 3 pack a day, in the house/car/office smoker. So she was exposed to skin damaging chemicals all day and night. She still looked amazing.

I wonder if aging is all relative. I wonder if the reality is, it has nothing to do with genes or skin care or healthy lifestyle. I wonder if it is all in the way you carry yourself. Perhaps it is all in the attitude you take and you soul, your inner most being, whether aging is a graceful or disgraceful process.

The woman in the restaurant was happy; smiling, confident, joyful. She loved her life and it was evident in the way she talked and smiled and carried herself. It was obvious in the way the wrinkles had formed on her face. They were laugh lines and eye crinkles from lots of smiling and laughing. They were from happy days and a good life.

I don't know what kind of wrinkles I have. I hope they are from laughing at and with my children. I hope they are from the beaming smiles the kids bring to my face when I see them. I pray that I can one day wear them confidently and boldly show the world the good life I've had by wearing it on my skin.

But for now I look at the images and lament the wasted youth I once had. The smooth skin, the flat tummy and the natural blond hair are all gone. I rebel against the natural aging and darkening of my hair by transforming it to colors it was never meant to be. And I like it that way. But sometimes I wish I had appreciated my youth while I had it. And I hope that I can appreciate my middle age and my old age as they come.

I look at the pictures and I try to learn these lessons.

But I can't see past the imperfections just yet.

D :)

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