Sound familiar?Â You are (blissfully) unaware of the aging process until one morning, you are standing at the bathroom mirror brushing your teeth as usual, and whoa! this strange person stares back at you.Â Your eyes may be as sharp as ever, the expression in them the same, but your features seem to be slouching in a Southerly direction.Â (French women seem to enjoy special dispensation from these facts of life.)
For some folks, women mostly but not exclusively, this new old face is enough to send ripples of panic through the whole body.Â Before you know it, you’re Googling anti-wrinkle creams, Botox treatments, and/or face lifts.Â (Yes, I admit I went as far as to check out the non-surgical options, see The Perricone Prescription.Â The good news: it is based on an anti-inflammatory diet and boosts one’s general health and well-being.)Â Â If you are past your fifth decade, you may personally know women (and maybe a few men) of a certain age who have submitted their tissues to the surgeon’s knife.Â While I respect the right to make this choice, ‘nip-and-tuck’Â isn’t in my future.
Of course, I’m not in the entertainment business where my wrinkles could directly affect my livelihood.Â And I don’t plan to run for political office, ditto.Â If Sarah Palin looked like Golda Meir, goes one recent joke, would we even be having this conversation?Â The truth is, whatever we do cosmetically, we will all end up looking something like Golda Meir (or Mike Wallace) if we’re lucky enough to live that long.Â Â But honestly, would you choose youth and beauty over a reputation for doing good work; passionate support of worthwhile causes; spreading joy; being trustworthy; being a good parent/grandparent/friend or any number of other qualities you value?
In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a baby is born old and grows younger each year until he ceases to exist.Â The tragedy was that he was moving through life in the opposite direction from everyone else, including the love of his life.Â It wasn’t so much an compelling story-into-film as a cautionary tale.Â Â In the world of the imagination, maybe we can fool Mother Nature.Â In real life, not so much.Â The aging face that looks back at you by dawn’s early light is a reminder that it’s time.Â Time to cultivate a sense of self deeper than your skin.Â If we — especially we women, weren’t so caught up in how the world sees and judges us (our faces, our clothes, our homes), we might be putting more attention on things like, let’s see, the epidemic of violence against women; the threats to our basic rights to clean water, air, education, health care; what kind of world we appear to be leaving to our grandchildren.Â We could be sweating the Big Stuff.