The Advantage of Looking Forward

Each time I look in the mirror, I can see the marks of each year on my face. Granted, it’s not a bad face at all. I have taken good care of it over all these years, starting at age 13 when my mother insisted I learn how to care for my skin. At age 13, you are lucky if you remember to swipe a damp paper towel over your face at bedtime to remove dried-on bubble gum and dirt.

So Mom set up a makeup and skin care party  (like a Tupperware party) with a professional to show us the right way to care for our skin. (Of course this included products to be bought, but mainly we learned how to keep our skin clean and healthy). I found that I enjoyed the process, and I could actually see the difference in my skin when I took care of it.

Long story short, I can count on one hand that times that I have been too tired to remove my makeup and do my regular skin care routine. The few times I didn’t do it, I felt horrible the next day. When I got into summer theatre, we all wore pancake makeup, which is terrible on your skin.

From the stage we all looked great, but after the show we had to remove it; it was a lot like chipping concrete. After being under those hot lights for an hour and a half, facial skin felt baked and dry. Having a good skin care routine has kept me looking pretty good all these years.

But more than a good skin care routine is the habit of looking forward as the years go by. Of course we look at pictures of our younger selves and wonder where those bright, fresh and unlined faces went, but age and experience leave their mark on us. And that isn’t a bad thing! I have studied the faces of my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, etc. and you can tell who is still looking forward, not back.

As we age, it is our character, our values, our thinking and our experiences that mold and make us. Those lines around our mouths mean that we have smiled and laughed a lot. That vertical line between our eyebrows means that we have pondered and worried and cared for our people, our passions, our interests, our country; it means we care.

I once found a book that had nothing in it but closeup pictures of people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and some over a hundred years old. There were wrinkles and scars and lines and missing teeth; but each and every face glowed with an inner light.

In fact, one of the women in that book who was 102 years old, looked as happy as a child at her own birthday party. At the time I wondered what it was that made her so happy. Now I get it; now I know: she was still looking forward.