I have started a new, actually good habit, of walking during my lunch break. I just circle the parking lot but at least it is a nice parking lot. Trees, a creek and railroad tracks with an occasional train surround the space. The sun peeks through the trees, the sound of the creek running and cute little woodland animals really make it pleasurable.
In my one ear I am listening to a specific playlist I developed just for my walks. Alice in Chains, AC/DC and the like help keep my energy up. I leave the other earbud out so I can hear the nature and cars that come up behind me.
Yesterday I was walking in the newly cool fall weather. A light rain falling on my face, which felt so good. The music pumping directly into my brain. Everything looked and felt like a Tarantino movie. You know the scenes with just the right music and life has a certain look. I even felt like time slowed and my pace looked like slow motion.
I was feeling pretty groovy and a bit hip. The breeze was blowing ever so lightly and I imagined my hair moving to the breeze. My step was brisk and well timed. It was glorious.
When my break was over I energetically walked up the stairs to my office and took a turn to the restroom to check the state of my rain touched hair. I was unprepared for the horror I saw there.
The automatic light turned on as I entered the room, a reflection appeared in the mirror. Gone was that groovy girl with the wind blowing in her hair. Replaced by an old woman with dark circles beneath tired, dull eyes. The dewy skin I envisioned was actually pale and dry and a little lifeless.
Who is that I thought? The person I was a few minutes ago seemed to have disappeared or, even worse, never existed. When I am away from the mirror for any amount of time, I seem to indulge in some fantasy and exclude reality. I think myself younger than I am. I forget my almost 60 years that are under my ever expanding belt.
I never minded growing older. I figured the older I got, the wiser I would become. That part is true. But life, no matter who you are, is difficult. Full of loss, pain, and difficulties as well as laughter and joy. All of which seem to have ended up on my face.
I love the wise aspect of aging but am not relishing the constant look of exhaustion. I don’t even mind the lines as they are proof I lived a life. But the hard reality of no longer being youthful looking hit me yesterday.
Never a beauty queen, I get that. But youth has a certain glow. Tired and youthful looks different than tired and old. Funny how our brains picture a false reality that does not match up with actual reality.
Oh that dammed mirror. Always reflecting all, even the things I do not want to see. To be fair, a mirror once saved my life. After living a reckless lifestyle for a time, I remember looking in a mirror to hollow and dead eyes. I remember thinking I can no longer look at myself. Things I was doing and the way I was living was not authentic to me. I realized in that moment I had to change. I had to get on the right path.
It took some time, a lot of regrets and some hard choices but I was finally able to look into those eyes once more. I knew then that I had changed for good. Today that is still my litmus test, will I be able to look myself in the eye?
So I guess that bathroom mirror isn’t such a bad thing. The reflection might not be exactly what I was hoping to see but at least the image is honest and authentic. No more could I ask for.