Monday, September 28, 2015

Marked by Life

Can you see all that I've done, all that I am? Just look at the marks life has left...

Before she noticed the sun's signature on me...

Last spring, after an amazing day playing on Coronado Island with my brother's family, we crammed ourselves into a rented Prius to head back to the hotel for dinner. Happy to be with my family, I sat in the backseat between the kids and felt the warmth of their sun-tanned bodies against me. Emory, my niece, picked her nose and wiped it on my leg. Nolan yelled with excitement and told Em that friends don't wipe their snot on other friends. I giggled and left the boogers there.

We drove slowly, through mid-day traffic, across the bridge towards downtown. Em and I laughed at the wind blowing our hair all crazy this way and that. I tried to fix my hair as Em watched me. Then she said something that surprised me. She said, "Aunt Jaala, why do you have a mustache?"

I thought, "Oh shit. Why do I?"

But instead of saying that, I asked her what she meant.

Emory said, "...your skin, it is darker by your lip, it looks like a mustache...and a beard!"

A little taken aback, I considered my answer carefully.

I thought about how I could explain to young Emory that although I'm a little self-conscious about my skin, it shouldn't matter that much.

I said, "Em, this is not a mustache, it is called sun spots. When people get older, sun tans go crazy and sometimes go darker in some places than in other places. Because I am always outside playing in the sun and enjoying nature, the sun leaves its mark on my face. This mustache is part of me, it shows where I have been."

Emory thought about the answer.

Then she said, "I like your mustache, Aunt Jaala."

And my happy heart melted a little.

Though this is a sort of superficial interaction about flaws and what we make of them, lately it got me thinking about flaws and weaknesses on a deeper level.

There are moments in each of our lives when we realize our flaws and weaknesses, and decide to do one of two thing: We either deny them or accept them. In denying the flaw or weakness, time waits for another opportunity to present this thing we have denied, and the Universe waits for the time we can accept the lesson it offers. In accepting the flaw or weakness, we learn a lesson; hopefully it enriches our character and we become better at life. We evolve, we reflect, we move forward.

This year has been tough and enlightening; I've experienced things that I never envisioned I would, but I try to take each experience in stride.

Though it wasn't so serious at all, Emory's comment about my skin was the tip of the iceberg, a moment for me to see that outer beauty in life, something me and so many women are obsessed with, is fleeting. We grasp tightly this form of beauty and sometimes forget that the beauty is in the flaws, the ones that we never intended to acquire.

What do the spots on my face mean?

Well, to me my skin reflects my life.

It shows that I live life hard and fast and appreciatively. I throw myself at life (with not enough sunscreen apparently) and I expect it to throw itself back at me.

I fuck up.

I get selfish and greedy.

But I always try to learn from my own flaws, from my mistakes, from my self-indulgence.

This year has stripped me bare and maybe added some spots to my aging face. But I accept each one of those spots as a mark of experience; of living. I know that these outer indications of a life lived are attached to my inner self. A growing, thriving, ever-changing light lives within me. Maybe it is just trying to get out via my face? I don't know, but I'm willing to accept whatever the reason is that I change and become more weathered each day. It is an honor to be marked by life.


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