Welcome change! Where would I be without you? Well, think about it – I wouldn’t be alive, that’s for sure. Yet looking in the mirror, I find myself wondering who this is looking back at me. There is some part of me that must have expected that I would continue to look the same. It would be the familiar face of me, the one I’ve become used to over my adult life, always. Interesting that now I think back to adolescence, which was certainly a time for changes in my body and appearance. But not the same as now. I believe the difference then was the sense of excitement that accompanied what was happening. Even if I wasn’t pleased with a particular change, the overall sense of it was looking forward to what was to come. There were plans and goals and new experiences to be met. Changes then may not always have been greeted with open arms, but the energy in them was about moving forward. Why is it that, in the later years of life, what lies ahead can often feel more like sliding down a slippery slope than rising to meet challenges?
There seems to be more attachment at this point to what was. And perhaps years of perfecting the voice of judgment within. This voice is the one that is not liking what’s happening, wanting the body to stay the same, considering desperate measures or placing blame for what’s changed. All as if these shifts in one’s body could be avoided.
Where are our role models for growing old, for aching joints and sagging skin? Even if a role model exists for us it isn’t his/her body that is the focus of inspiration. It is more likely what he or she is accomplishing in spite of the physical body. Maybe the bigger question is how to show up fully human with all that’s shifting and changing and be ok with that. We are a culture that relies on reflection – not the inward kind but the mirrored image of who we think we should be. It’s generally a full screen representation of who we want to be or the image we desire to project to others that drives the ability to accept changes in our bodies.
So how do we turn the mirror back on itself? Would it even work? Imagine a world without mirrors – where the only option to “see” oneself is in someone else’s eyes. We might then have to accept a new level of vulnerability – the reality of being seen by another. Mask – less. It may seem more difficult than what we do now, but somehow I think not. This could be a practice that leads us to the wonder of feeling connected to other human beings in a way that doesn’t easily happen now. It might help us realize that we are all the same, we all change and that change has the capacity to reveal to us who we truly are. How bad can that be?