BY SHEER CHANCE I happened to glance at my face in the mirror today as I left the bathroom. Usually, I am too preoccupied with other things and it never occurs to me to do that, to look at myself. But there it was, an old face, looking back at me. “At fifty,” said George Orwell, “everyone has the face he deserves.” And I’m 78! Walking into my home office, there are a few old photographs, among other things, framed and hanging or gathering shelf dust. Another me looks out of those photos, a much younger me, from various times, plus one caricature from 1974, when I was thirty-two. Candidly, I think to myself, considering people and personalities with whom I am familiar, Orwell was right. Wondering what it is that I see in my septuagenarian visage, most particularly my eyes, I have decided that I see sadness. Yet, I am not sad. It stems from things I’ve experienced, conclusions I’ve drawn. My most prized personal possession is my sense of humor, which the mirrored face that I saw looking back at me seems to belie. But then I recall Mark Twain: “The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow.” [from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar] And humans, of all this planet’s animal kingdom, are the only ones with a sense of humor. Most of us, anyway. So I’m ready to accept that I wholly deserve this face of mine, and with this beard, I’m not forced to look at it while shaving every morning, which is something to be thankful for, I guess.
With age comes wisdom.
With age comes wisdom.
Yes, along with some other less welcome conditions. I appreciate your commentary.
Thanks for another insightful post.
I too am of an age where I look at old photos of myself and do not recognise any likeness to the present me anymore. Interestingly, when I shave each morning, I obviously do not look closely at the image being reflected in the mirror in a way that could be deemed as 'recognition'. This excercise in personal hygiene is purely to try to get the shaving job done efficiently without mishap. Thus, on the odd occasions when I catch a glimpse of myself in 'recognition' mode, it tends to remind me how old I am getting. Hence, I try not to indulge in this activity too often or for too long.
Anyway, I have long-since thought that some of my more acceptable 'reflections' have been in-verse, rather than in the mirror so, this would be the medium by which I tend to percieve myself.
Over the past year I have found it fascinating that, with the wearing of facemasks, it has encouraged more people to look us 'straight in the eye', rather than just a quick glance at us as a whole. The ones who linger longer with that somewhat intimate look, seem to have developed a keener sense of non-verbal communication than I had noticed before masks. This has been especially noticeable with young children, (usually in their supermarket trolley's) who are not so embarrassed to look for longer and are prone to seek that non-verbal communication with passing strangers. Perhaps this has always been so and I have simply not noticed it before. Perhaps it is just a 'natural' response to being semi-imprisoned in the metal trolley - as I have often witnessed caged animals in sancturies looking wailfully at me in a similar fashion, and are also open to mutually responsive non-verbal communication.
As I attaain my twilight years
I try to refrain from repeating past fears.
You know the flurrys to which I refer
all of those worries that failed to occur.
With not much in front and so much left behind,
my expression's more blunt, now there's less on my mind.
As I reflect backwards, I may have come wise,
but still more - than less awkward -- surprise! surprise!
B. Withers 1995
(In 'Reflections' 1998)