I used to be obsessive about a wrinkle that carved a permanent home on the left side of my chin. The wrinkle, one of many now, is in the shape of a thin crescent moon whose open side faces down as if to mimic gravity’s pull. It’s now become part of a network of smaller lines and squiggles that double in numbers when I laugh and smile.
I said I used to obsess about this wrinkle, and I did. But, I’ve moved on. Lately, I’ve asked myself this question: What are the upsides of wrinkles? I want a positive slant on this aging process, a reason to celebrate the change from smooth surface to lines and deep folds.
My first true wrinkle began its existence as a mere shadow. Slowly, the wrinkle progressed, and in spite of its quiet debut it appeared to gain precious facial territory – like the armies of Alexander the Great they spread across my globe.
The reality though, is quite the opposite. This wrinkle, like any other wrinkle, had developed through loss. Fat that once plumped up the area beneath my eyes, and around my cheek bones, diminished. As my estrogen levels dropped, elasticity gave way, and my facial landscape yielded to interconnected microscopic forces.
My skin’s loss, however, has been my gain.
In the same time it took the wrinkle to form it’s uneven little timeline, I’d run through fields of tall grass and splashed through creek beds, annoyed teachers as I daydreamed my way through classes, loved more than one pet, married twice, lost one child early on, watched the other three grow up, and started writing. As I see it, the disparity between my wrinkle and I is staggering.
It was difficult to visualize the difference at first. As a child, I was taught that wrinkles would define my limits. So, year after year I watched for the signs of those boundaries closing in on me, and on occasion they have. But, I believe those walls are created out of fear, and speak volumes about those who tend them. Eventually, I’ve discovered, all walls crumble and fall.
Deep within its cell walls, the wrinkle is privy to a life lived. They are chronological markings – patterns that don’t judge. Ultimately, out of its loss the wrinkle tells a story of a life lived.