So, I’m preening in the bathroom mirror this morning, thinking how good my recent haircut looks, when suddenly my gaze is focused on the spot right at my part, right in the front. Maybe it’s how my hair is parted, maybe it’s a trick of the light, but I can see a tiny bit of my scalp through my hair. WTF???!!! Oh no!! No! No! No! I am not having this! I am not losing my hair! This can’t beeeee! I hyperventilate for a bit and move a tad away from the mirror. Hmmm. That’s better. I apply mascara and notice a lash on my cheek. Ooooh. I make a wish. Wow! Another lash? Another wish! By the fourth wish, I’m just wishing my eyelashes would stop falling out and wondering if there’s a way to save them and hot glue them to my scalp. The fifth time I reach up to brush a lash off my cheek, it doesn’t come off on my finger and I realize it’s an age spot. I sigh and step away from the mirror before any more damage can be done.
I Just finished watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for at least the 100th time. I love that movie. When the whole town is singing “Auld Lang Syne” and throwing money at George, I blubber every time. Can you imagine what it would be like to see a world in which you’d never been born? Quite a gift, if you’re lucky. Not so much if that life looks the same, or worse, better
than if you were in it. I admit I find it hard to imagine the difference my small existence makes in the grand scheme of things. That’s not self-pity, or feelings of worthlessness talking. Whispering, muttering, talking under their breath, maybe. I’ve made no grand contributions to mankind, to art, to science, to the welfare of others. I have borne no children to carry on. I am no George Bailey. I suppose it’s worth reminding myself that even George Bailey was no George Bailey before Clarence came along and showed him just how George Bailey he really was. The point is, everyone is someone, however great or small their contributions , just by virtue of being alive. Everyone is here on this earth for a reason. Or so I’ve heard. Ya know. From Oprah. I’ll admit. I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to be doing here. Is THAT self-pity? Probably. Granted, if I weren’t here, I would never have met my sister-in-law in college, she would never have met my brother, and three of the most remarkable, beautiful, talented young women would never have been born. And maybe my purpose is to create jewelry, to write, to let whoever is wearing something, or reading this know that if they feel alone, and a little unimportant, and they can’t find their purpose, that maybe it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a purpose. And we’ll figure it out when we’re good and ready.
I’ve always been a bit of a quitter. I start things that I don’t always finish. As a kid I took one guitar lesson, a couple of painting classes. I signed up to dance in a talent show at the community center and just never went. Of course I’d never taken a dance lesson in my life, but I was convinced I could channel my inner Martha Graham and wing it. Until I wasn’t. I signed up to be a volunteer, because it’s clear from every Oprah show I’ve ever seen that giving back makes life worthwhile. I haven’t done a second of volunteer work and every time I see Oprah on TV or the newsstands, I want to kick her in the shins. Today, I walked away from
a group I’ve been a part of for several years. A group of 4 women who met in Weight Watchers and felt the need for deeper reflection and exploration. It has been a tremendous blessing in my life and I owe a lot of my growth to this group of women. But more and more, other things got in the way. And as another member pointed out, I didn’t fight hard enough for this little piece of time on a Saturday morning. I felt defensive at first, until I realized she was right. I didn’t have to like how that made me feel, but I had to face the truth. I wasn’t as committed as the other three were and yet I didn’t want to leave. Perhaps because I wouldn’t be a part of something. At least not that something. But when I decided to step away, I felt a great sense of relief. Until I didn’t. It is certainly true that it wasn’t working for me anymore. It is also true that personal feelings were making it harder to be objective. Leaving feels like the right move. Until it doesn’t. Or maybe it does, but it still makes me really sad. And that’s ok. Even when you are absolutely sure that moving on is the right choice, it doesn’t always feel good. So, how do you know for sure? How do I know if I’m listening to my heart or hearing only the monkey chatter in my head, moving on or giving up? Making the touch choices or taking the easy way out? How does anyone really know? Except for Oprah.
So this morning, as I’m getting ready, I decide to pluck a few of the wild eyebrow hairs I inherited from my dad. I get dressed, put on a little lipstick, and do a last minute check in the mirror and what do I see nestled in my hair? A big gray eyebrow hair. No big deal. I’ll just pull it off. This proves to be a little harder than it sounds. Every time I try and grab that sucker, it seems to get more entrenched in my hair. And the more I play with my hair, the more static-y and flyaway it gets. So now I look like I stuck my finger in a light socket and there’s a big gray eyebrow hair taking up residence on my head. These are the horrors of aging that no one ever tells you about. Oh, sure we talk about losing our parents, our spouses, worrying about retirement, getting sick, dying. But does anyone really speak of the truly scary stuff? The crepe-y skin on your neck. The lumps and bumps and hair that appear in odd places and never go away. The little “oy” that escapes you every time you get up. The hemorrhoids, the gas! Oh the humanity! There are those who embrace aging with grace and dignity. Who accept each line and crack as hard-earned, a sign of wisdom and beauty. There are those who hold on to youth with every ounce of strength and money they possess. They nip, they tuck, they wear the perpetual ear-to-ear smile and surprised expression of one too many face lifts, while their hands and their husbands give away their real age. I’m somewhere in between. I color my hair, I dress in a loose, funky style that I consider hip and young, but which my nieces probably roll their eyes at as crazy. Would I try plastic surgery? Maybe, if I had the money. But when I look at my face, including those ridiculous eyebrows, I see my dad. And that hair? The spare tire, the dowager’s hump? My mom. I am a patchwork quilt of those who came before me. And I will be part of the quilt that my nieces will wrap around themselves throughout their lives. And even when they are worn and faded and a little threadbare, they’ll still keep them warm.