Her face, those lines, they could tell 1,000 stories.
If only I had the time to hear them.
I remember meeting a woman very similar looking to this one while I was hiking the Himalayas in Nepal. There I learned that, as a culture, they look upon a woman with silver hair with reverence, for they believe she has great wisdom to share.
The narrative around silver hair and so much about aging tends to be vastly different in our culture.
Her hair knows of seasons long gone by and it remembers friends and loved ones who’ve passed on who only whisper in her dreams now. It knows the lessons she fought hard for and remembers the heartaches that broke her to pieces, so she could mend herself whole again, finding her strength once more.
Those spots of age that prove she’s not 21 anymore. Her mind is wiser, her speech is more refined, and her heart has grown one million times wider from the life she’s lived—the people who have touched her and the ones she has touched.
Is it possible to honor her, the “she” inside of us? To honor the things we see in the mirror as time passes to make us appreciate years gone by, wisdom earned, and experiences we’ve had—some of which we’ve celebrated and some which we barely endured.
I’m not 21. And although I love her in all her glowing youth and the sweet innocence that comes with it all—I don’t want to be her. I’ve earned these spots and wrinkles; they are badges of honor. They tell of days spent in the sun with friends I adore—wild and free, not a care in the world.
They speak of the messiness that is my life. They represent dragons slayed—my own as well as the ones I’ve been honored to witness others slay inside themselves. They speak of the selfish pain I caused others as I slowly learned it’s better to be kind than to be right, and how I ache for meaning and human connection more than compliments and recognition.
I honor however one approaches aging in their own way. Sometimes (actually, often), I just wonder what it would be like if we as a culture could smile as time looks back at us in the mirror instead of wanting to somehow make what we see different.
Reverence for what is, instead of what once was.
Author: Anne Arndt
Image: Janaya Dasiuk/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman