A wrinkle in time

A couple of months ago I attended a screening of the locally-produced film “A Question of Beauty” (first released in May, 2010) at a fund raising event for Project Under the Tree, a charitable Christmas function hosted by the Moncton Business and Professional Women’s Association.

Seen through the eyes of female artisans and writers, the production attempts to expand society’s notion of beauty beyond thin thighs and young, smooth faces. Wrinkles and white hair are beautiful (in their own way), largesse is beautiful (in its own way). It purports the idea that just as every different flower in nature is beautiful, so are we, at every stage in life.

Creator and host Colleen Furlotte sums up her documentary by saying “beauty doesn’t create love; love creates beauty.”

Oh, blah, blah, blah.

I smirked at a quotation from a 29-year-old girl in the film. She said, “I look forward to wrinkles.”

With eyebrows raised, I looked at the friend on my left and whispered, “we’ll see.”

I suppose I shouldn’t have spoken it aloud at such a love-in, but I can’t help smiling at her naivete. You see, the real problem with wrinkles is all the things you have to go through in life to get them.

I got my first wrinkle in college. One night around 10 pm, I was walking home on an empty street after a shift at my part-time job. From far behind, a man began chasing me. “Andrea!” he kept yelling. “Wait–you come back here!” (Whoever Andrea was, she was in serious trouble.) I kept walking faster, almost running, hoping I’d get home before he reached me. My heart leapt in my throat. He finally caught up and grabbed my shoulder. I whirled around, afraid of what might happen next. When he saw my face, he stopped short, and his angry look turned sheepish. “Oh…sorry,” he said, and walked away.

I never walked home alone again.

All kinds of momentous occasions cause wrinkles: the time your spouse had a serious motorcycle accident while you were just a couple of weeks from giving birth; the time your toddler decided to go sit in the middle of the road when your back was turned—that was worth a few gray hairs; or when he put a baseball through somebody’s window with a replacement value of $700. It’s getting one too many sunburns in childhood, enduring financial ups-and-downs, stress on the job (or having no job at all), the betrayals of chronic disease. It’s just time.

It’s one thing to be a 68-year-old, like one woman featured in the film who said, “I’ve never colored my hair, I like my white hair the way it is.” Fantastic! More power to you for gracefully accepting the changes age brings. But it’s quite another to have a 20-something look at you and say, “Oh, I love your gray hair. I can’t wait till my hair is gray.”

Are you nuts? Enjoy being young, for heaven’s sake. It doesn’t last very long. There will be plenty of time to enjoy gray hair when it comes. Hopefully, your fading color and shine will be replaced by the more eternally beautiful values of patience, maturity, gratitude, kindness, and the wisdom to take joy in small things.

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