I like old faces--the fragile top layers covering the strength of underlying bone. These faces with their ever-developing web of wrinkles pique my interest. I wonder about their life stories. Did their owners have children, and are their children still living? Or did they suffer the loss no parent should ever experience? Did they fight in a war? Did they care for the wounded? Were they kind, were they crabby? Did they make someone's life a living hell? Did they love well?
So many beautiful faces and all but invisible in our American culture that finds no appeal or interest in them. (I often think that if some life form on a distant planet were monitoring what the U.S. media broadcasts into ether, they would conclude that no one on this planet survives past fifty--or if they do, they lose their minds and start acting stupid, batty, or crude.)
Heads of state, world-renown surgeons and corporate leaders are played on television and film by twenty-to forty-somethings. While I find myself looking at the young with a mother's warm and squishy heart and could cry in awe at the exquisiteness of my daughters' unlined faces, I fear we're missing a good portion of the spectrum.
We're being trained by a youth-oriented culture to turn away from the aged, as if a well-worn, uninjected, unaltered countenance is embarrassing or shameful. Quick, hide your offensive, sagging jowls! Sadly, we're losing our ability to appreciate our many seasons of beauty.
My mom will be ninety years old this year. The loves and losses of her life are written in her wrinkles. Her skin is almost transparent in places, her hands and feet bent from arthritis. But her face tells a lovely story of tenacity and perseverance, and of joy and gratitude for her life.
But you have to look to see it.