I know why, of course. I had one, single, paltry cup of coffee yesterday morning, which I absolutely should never, ever do, being wildly sensitive to the caffeine in the stuff…but oh, I do so love DH’s coffee!
Anyway, I was bug-eyed until 3:00 a.m., and up at 7:00, heaven forbid. The nights of eight hours’ shut-eye that I distinctly remember getting at least once in a while when I was younger, are now – not simply fewer and farther between – but gone, as though they never happened. Nowadays, if I manage six hours linked together at the same time, I’m lucky!
And just between you and me, the results in the bathroom mirror are becoming ever more scary now that I’m a Golden Ager (here you should read “older than dirt”).
In fact, if this keeps going from bad to worse – as it’s showing every likelihood of doing – getting my face together to greet the day (which used to take a mere fifteen minutes from wash to last flick of the blush brush) could wind up being my life’s work.
At my age, a woman has to be careful, too, about plastering on too much of the concealing stuff for fear of winding up looking as though her face was somehow set in cracking concrete. For instance, black metallic eye shadow that looks dramatic and attractive on a twenty-something has the distinct tendency to look nothing less than pathetic when applied to a face that’s well, you know…old.
Of course, the natural urge is to cover it all up, in the hope that the aging insomniac’s pale, listless and somewhat droopy facial appearance will magically transform into the fresh and lively look that characterized that same face when it was (sigh) young.
Don’t go there, I’m warning you. It’s nothing short of creepy.
And you know what I discovered the other day as I was washing my face for the 48,000th time? I have a line of large brown age spots marching up the right side of my face from jawline to temple like a row of huge brown polka dots!
How could this have happened without my noticing? I mean, we all have to look in the mirror sometime or other during a day, if only to check that our hair isn’t sticking straight up toward the ceiling over one ear or that our lipstick (if we’ve bothered to wear any) is on straight, right? And now suddenly, overnight it seems, I have liver spots on my face, the final bastion of my fading youth. The baby face that was the bane of my existence at 16 (and would have killed to look sultry and sexy like my friend Nita), is now letting me down again; it’s now an old baby face, which is nothing short of bizarre.
What’s next? Will my nose sink into one of its pores and disappear one morning? I tell you, getting old, there’s never a dull moment.
Joking aside, the bald truth is that eventually, nothing in the world will disguise the fact that getting old…shows; that every last one of us will sooner or later succumb to the inevitable ravages of time, no matter how faithfully we apply the unguents and oils. However, I have a secret that I’m going to share with all you young and not-so-young gals who are apparently horrified at the thought of a grey hair or two, or (gasp) a wrinkle – a secret that the mirror doesn’t reveal and that the cosmetic companies aren’t about to mention.
The secret is this: somewhere inside, deep down where our hearts and minds really live, we don’t get old at all! In fact, there’s a richness of life and experience and wisdom and love and humour stored up in there, like a fine Christmas pudding packed to the brim with fruit and nuts and rich, dark brandy.
Instead of focusing, as the cosmetic companies would seduce us to do, on the loss of youth’s visible glow, we ought instead to be exploring the richness of our long lives, there ripe for the plucking – the joys and heartaches and disappointments and laughter and love that are part of who we are; the contribution that is “ours alone” to give to the world.
To give; to give back for the privilege of having loved and laughed and wept in this short lifetime.
The coming of age of the Crone in us can be a time of leavening, rising and lightening and softening like good bread dough, when the trappings of the outer world can be allowed to shift aside a little in favour of living the very best of our uniqueness, letting the vulnerable truth of the finest that we can be (which we might normally shy away from exposing), out for a stroll in the world.
Old age can be the time of the heart, time to let the caged bird fly. If we, the old, can manage to shed the worldliness and sophistication and cynicism that can attach like barnacles to our real selves - find our tender, youthful hearts again before we enter the next stage of our life’s journey – then some tiny portion of this world is bound to be the better for us having walked here.