The bathroom lock slides across with a satisfying click, and a sigh escapes me as I begin to wind down. I’m relieved to be alone for a few minutes after a busy day of work, then taking the kids to hockey practice.
I smile at my reflection in the mirror. Not too bad, still a bit of life in the old girl yet! I fluff my hair and pull a cheeky pout—just to prove I’ve still got what it takes. Then I chuckle at my vanity.
The cooling make-up remover I smear over my eyes makes blotches and smudges. The image looks zombielike. Again I laugh—it takes so little to destroy the mirage of attractiveness.
A rinse with water, a rub of a towel and the naked truth is revealed. Time is starting to take its toll. A grey hair peeks through here and there, my skin is not so supple anymore, and a few soft lines border the eyes and forehead. Not so bad, I try to convince myself, it could be worse.
I smile, remembering the eight-year-old who, upon inspecting my face carefully, exclaimed, “You’re lucky- -you’ve got twinkle wrinkles!” I managed to bite my tongue and smile through my teeth at the girl. I wanted to snap back, “YOU will have ‘twinkle wrinkles’ yourself one day!”
It’s interesting how our idea of beauty changes with time. I remember at her age wishing I had buck teeth! I would carefully arrange my lips so my two front teeth stuck out. I also thought freckles were cool! Now the mental image makes me cringe.
Later as a teenager, I would pose in the mirror, hoping someone would hire me to be a model, or realise my talent as a movie star. I spent hours on end fretting about every pimple and experimenting with make-up and hair-dos. More realistic goals of career, travel, love and family developed as I traversed my twenties.
Brushing my teeth now, I wonder at all the changes. That child’s face has gone, along with its childish ideas. So has the teen face with all its dreams and insecurities. The youthful face with its dreamy aspirations has faded into the mature face that stares back at me from the mirror now. It’s a little tired, a little battle weary, but continuing to strive to fulfill the elusive dream. What will happen to it?
I am reminded of something my grandmother once said before she passed away. Her affectionate eyes looking at me from her face with its myriad of soft crinkles, she said, “I remember being young—I used to run and dance, full of energy.” She waved her hand, swollen and painful with arthritis, “I still want to run and dance, but my body won’t let me.” I was puzzled, so she tried to explain, “I am still the same person with the same desires.” I could not understand; to me it seemed she had always been old.
I miss her.
I wonder where she has gone. I hope she can run and dance now.
Perhaps one day I will look as she did. So many changes have taken place—but somehow I remain the same. I am the same person, despite the never-ending changes reflected in the mirror. I think I am beginning to understand what Granny meant.
Time changes everything! My face changes, my mind changes, my aspirations change. Nothing stays the same—but I am still me! Aren’t I? It seems I am witness to it all, like watching a movie in which I am the principal actor.
I think about the monk I met the other day, in a random encounter on the street. Odd to meet a monk on Cuba Street, but he was a cheerful, friendly guy. He showed me a book with a picture showing the soul moving through different phases of life in one body and then continuing on to another body after death. “We are just passing through,” he said. It fascinated me. Perhaps I should find the time to read that book.
The soul . . . I look deep into my reflected eyes. Perhaps they hold the answer. The eyes are a window to the soul they say. Is that what I am? The eternal witness watching the movie?
A loud banging on the door interrupts my reprieve. The real world has not forgotten me. I shrug off my thoughts and scramble to finish my grooming.