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Kathy Schwinger: Lifetime of emotions reflected in one’s face

Who ever said, “life is not fair” and “the sky is falling” had it partly right. Perhaps the sky is not falling, but my face is. And who says that’s fair?

I look into the mirror and it seems, with the passing of each day, it has taken another plunge. At first it didn’t seem a daily dive; more a gradual relaxation accepted and expected due to the gravitational pull and, yes, I admit, the passage of time.

Suddenly, however, it seems to be following the stock market. You just don’t know from one day to the next where it may land.

However, my inner self has not changed. That’s where life is not fair. How can you feel so youthful and look like this?

I can accurately track this free-fall by a scar I received as a child. Originally located high on my cheekbone, it now rests on a plane with my upper lip.

I regret now not spending a few hours of each day during my younger years hanging by my heels to help reverse this effect. I’m convinced that would have worked.

And instead of sleeping on my stomach with my face compacted into the pillow, I should have forced myself to sleep only on my back. I think that, too, may have helped. (Young women, take note.)

I’m not quite sure what “old” is but I’m not there, not by a long shot. I think that in my case, gravity is chiefly responsible for this drop, because I’m not tall. Because my face is closer to the ground, the pull must be greater.

Of course, being petite is a plus because I’m usually looking up at others, which diminishes, at least visually, the saggage. Sitting in rapt conversation, elbows on the table, I find myself with a fist on each side of my face pushing upward toward each ear – easily removing several years.

Life is full of surprises, but when you look at your reflection and see your mother, that’s a shocker! How can that person be me?

When my mother was in her late 70s, I recall her referring to a group as “those old people.” She apparently experienced the same impression of herself as I do, never quite relating to her actual age.

It is certainly encouraging to know that the external signs of aging are not necessarily indicative of our states of mind or how we actually feel. Our outer shells withstand numerous assaults throughout our years.

And our facial changes reveal so very much. A lifetime of emotions have etched and kneaded what we have experienced, resulting in what we now see reflected in our face: tragedy, sorrow, elation, joy, sadness, happiness, curiosity, fright, surprise, wonder and contentment.

And that’s OK. When I see my reflection, I know that what I see is the upshot of my life; that looking beyond a person’s facade into his depths will be rewarding and revelatory. I also know that gravity is alive and well and that I will continue to see myself – not by looking, but by feeling – as a vital, engaged, youthful, active and content woman.

Knowing that I would never consider the options available to reverse these outward signs of aging – I have earned them, after all – there is a solution. By avoiding all mirrors, I can blindly carry on living my life as I perceive myself, because what you see on the outside doesn’t harmonize with what you feel on the inside, again proving that life can be unfair.