Lately, when I take a good look in the mirror, the phrase that comes to mind more often than not is, “Dude, what happened?” Since I think I am still 25, that is, in fact, the exact expression. Sometimes it’s just “dude,” sometimes it’s a simpler, more inquisitive “huh” sound. But the confusion and questioning as I inventory my gray hairs and wrinkles is the same.
Where – and when -, exactly, did all these pinch points around my eyes and mouth develop? I barely noticed. Somewhere along the line time started running away from me…and just kept going! I remember when I was a kid and time stood still for days on end – long, aimless, completely boring days, especially during the sweltering summers of my childhood. I’d complain to my mom that I was bored and she’d tell me she could find me work to do around the house and, voila, I would instantly be cured of boredom and find myself somewhere else to be and something else to do. In hindsight, that was a pretty predictable outcome (my mom knew what she was doing!). These days I can’t remember the last time I had the occasion to be bored.
Needless to say, a fair bit of time has passed since I was a little girl and even since I was 25 (ho hum). I mean, literally, that was more than two decades ago. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around that.
What I do know, with absolute certainty, is that I have earned every one of these wrinkles. Sure, some probably came from poor sunscreen choices when I was a kid. But a lot came from standing on the precipice of a new adventure or from facing into the difficult stuff that inevitably comes up in a life and not turning away because it was too hard or painful or might cause me to break (or wrinkle). I have broken down and gotten myself back up enough times now that I guess I should know I have some serious years under my belt.
Though I may have the odd Botox dream (ha ha), in fact each wrinkle is a hard-earned badge of a memorable life. It’s the sign of time spent leaning in to all of the adventure, opportunity, and challenge that come with living fully. As Lori McKenna so pithily says in People Get Old, “Every line on your face tells a story somebody knows.” What a wonderful sentiment.
From heartache to adventure, hard work to achievement, sunny skies to skinned knees, those wrinkles are the story of your life written across the canvas of you. Live and lean into those lines.