The first time I ever really loved my own face was a month ago.
I was at a friend’s apartment and I went to empty my always full 12-oz bladder. Before I reached the toilet, I caught my gaze in the mirror. I just stood there for probably two minutes.
What I saw was not my face as I knew it.
My face as I knew it had a lot of issues—it was too round, weirdly mis-colored, asymmetrical, often cute but only in that way where the cuteness is directly proportional to the cuteness of other peoples’ faces and there was always a rating system assigned to it.
But this face—this face was perfect.
This face was perfect because the feeling of love soaked through every single pore (every single pore that at one point or another I had been bewitched, bothered and bewildered by, and not in the good way).
I had no issues with this face.
My eyes were huge and bright, my color was peach and lively, even my hair (which is usually resigned into one hell of a frumpy ponytail) was soft and secure.
And what I loved most about this face, and the beauty that I found in this face, was that this beauty said absolutely nothing about other peoples’ beauty. It didn’t scream out, “I am more attractive than her!” It didn’t croon, “this is one bang-able badass face.” It didn’t murmur, “hot damn, shackalacka bing-bong-boom, genetic lottery: success!”
It merely existed.
At this point in the story, it’s pretty obvious that this is not about my face.
This is about love.
Because in that moment, it became so abundantly clear to me that beauty has nothing to do with the components of one’s face. Rather, it has everything to do with how one wears their face—and that if you wear your face with love, you are the most scintillating, magical creature the earth has ever seen.
My spiritual mentor once commented and said that as Americans, we are generally deficient in our heart chakra and overly stimulated in our solar plexus.
Now, I’m not making claims for other people, but I can personally attest that this has been the case for me most of my life: my success was always predicated on other peoples’ failure, my beauty on other peoples’ genetic misfortune, my awesomeness on other peoples’ banalities.
And although that sounds like at the end of the day I get to come home and think to myself: Brentan, you’re so successful and beautiful and awesome—way more than stupid Emily, Emily’s the worst!; in actuality, my end of the day monologue would always sound a little more like this: Brentan, yeah you should be happy with your success and beauty and awesomeness, but you still kind of suck and you have a lot to prove. You better sleep up and figure out how to prove all that shit tomorrow, because this is a battle, home-girl, and you are losing.
This has kept me from feeling connected with other people, connected with my love, and connected with the beauty of my face.
It became clear to me a couple of years ago that I had a lot of internal work to do—to shift my energy from competition and ego-upkeep, to love and compassion and gratitude and generosity of spirit.
Sweet. I have work to do—but, how? How does one do that?
I wish I could be more helpful in describing my shift, but my answer is that I honestly don’t know how that shift came to be inside of me.
All I know is that these days, I feel the shift radiating consistently, powerfully and wonderfully.
These days, I find myself bewitched, bothered and bewildered, totally in the good way.
I can speculate a host of reasons that may have contributed to that shifting: showing up to my daily work as a human with the ferocity of a deprived heroin addict reunited with the needle; being honest with myself about who I am in this moment and trying (just trying) to accept myself; consistently looking at the things I keep around me—friendships, boyfriends, jobs, etc.—and asking myself: am I aligned with this?
And I guess my intention nowadays is to simply enjoy my life, every single moment of it (which is really called into question when I find myself at the DMV, or at unexpected road construction, or when I feel people are being mean to me on the internet).
But I know now that my answer is not moisturizer cream to keep my skin young; my answer is not power-yoga to shave off more belly flesh; my answer is not getting 40,000 views on my elephant journal articles (although, don’t get me wrong: that would be nice).
Those things all keep me operating from that place inside of me that just wants to be better than other people, and wants other people to know it.
My answer is to wake up in the morning, open my eyes and ask myself, “how am I feeling right now and how can I help myself connect with love?”
Because then I get to go spend time with people I love and walk into their bathroom and become mesmerized by my own reflection staring back at me. And that is how I want to live my life.
Beauty is Love. Beauty is being able to feel love and express love through an eye-glance and a finger touch and some pouchy cheek flesh.
After two minutes of admiring my reflection, the initial bewitching, bothering and bewildering settled, and my next thought was: I am an Indian Warrior, and you shall call me: Raindance Breakfast.
It’s good to know I still can’t take myself too seriously.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman