Having embraced our feet with appreciation in my last post, it occurred to me that faces, consistently exposed to review and evaluation, have their own challenges to bear.
The first social connection is to the face of the caregiver, our ticket into the world of relationships. We presume, little egocentric beings that we are, that the expression on mommy’s face is a perfect reflection of who we are. Is mommy stressed, preoccupied, tired? Are we welcome, important or an intruder, a bother? No wonder we focus so much attention on facial appearance… Which one of the 200 possible expressions of the human face will bring people closer? Which ones will repel people? Are we aware of our expressions and how they’re affecting others?
Rather than emotions being the barometer of facial expression, in our culture, there is the perennial search for the perfect face, especially the nose. It’s as if nasal perfection trumps all of our insecurities. The thought of a nose job gives me the willies! I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I think of anything resembling a scalpel approaching my poor face. As for nose jobs, I can’t speak from experience, because I escaped the Armenian nose through some anomaly of DNA. Those Armenian noses are prodigious. Maybe back in the day they were used to call the sheep home from the pasture?
Then there’s the aging face. I have a beauty mark that used to be in the middle of my right cheek. It is now closer to my jaw line. What does that tell you about the effects of gravity? I’d like to think that the beauty mark is migrating on its own, but it’s really my flesh giving up the fight. Oh the ravages of time.
The things we do to shore up the effects of time and gravity! People get injected, get their faces cut and lifted, and collect myriads of creams and lotions which (supposedly) perform youthful transformations. Go into the medicine cabinet of any woman over 55 and you’ll see the stockpile of failed experiments and broken promises. We lose collagen as we age. Where does it all go? It’s probably languishing at the ocean floor along with the single socks we lose in the laundry. Someone could make a fortune drilling for collagen and recovering socks. Forget petroleum.
I remember my aunts and my mother having the family joke of walking past a mirror and doing a double take, saying “When did that happen!?” It was always good for a laugh. I understand it better now than I did then, though I confess that I’m not always laughing.
I also recall my father looking in the mirror and saying “Who is that old guy?” He said he felt the same as always on the inside and was shocked when the mirror didn’t agree with his inner perception. I guess, unless we want to live a delusional existence, we have to lean into that sweet, if aging, face in the mirror and appreciate its reflection of the journey we’ve traveled in the 3D world.
Along those lines we’re left with a choice: We can wear our imperfect faces proudly or twist them into billboards of doubt, suffering and shame. There’s a saying “In the first half of life, your face belongs to God. In the second half of life, your face belongs to you.” I take this to mean that, if our hearts are open we exude love and softness, an inner beauty shining through our faces. If life has etched suffering and resentment, we are left with the facial residue.
Rather than spackling, injecting, cutting and pasting the facial lines of experience, why don’t we work on our faces from inside out? Is it really where the skin is sitting on my bones that defines who I am? I think I’ll go smile at myself in the mirror and see what happens.
Sending love, Rosanne