peeling, veiny, beautiful love.

You can be old, peeling, dried out and veiny and still spell out love to everyone you meet. It's just not that hard, dude.

See, I consider this good news.  I've hit that age when head turning is a distant memory.  I still sometimes have an effect on elderly farmers driving Apes but that's an entirely different matter. Sometimes, if I really get the makeup right (takes too long) and suck in the middle (hurts too much) and wear that really long black tee shirt over some skinny pants (skinny pants?  Did I just write skinny pants?), I can still FEEL hot.  But  the hot normally has more to do with hormones than what I see in the mirror.

But who cares.  It's the inside that counts, right?  Humfph.

Well, yeah, it is.  You know, this clock is just not going backwards and in reality, I don't want it to.  No, no, really, I mean that.  If it went backwards I would miss all of the things that it took to get here, and here is where I am, at this point of awareness, with this skill set, with this understanding of how things work.  And here is good, it really is.

It's just that it here has come with a bit of a turkey neck and a few not-very-strategically placed popped veins.

No matter.

I am here. And here is where it is going to stay only for an excruciatingly brief moment.  The winds of time move quickly, my friend, and we will be swept away.  So between right now and that all-too-soon-coming-sweep, we have some choices to make, you and I.

How do you want to live?

You can decide for yourself.  I want to live without fear.  Let me correct that.  I know living without fear is impossible.  I want to live without fear being in control.  Which means I want to live bravely and freely.  I want to live more simply and enjoy the gifts I have. And I want to write and create.

Who do you want to be?

I want to be an honest, kind person.  Sometimes honesty and kindness get in the way of each other, and I want to master both. That's a lesson I need to spend more time learning.   I want to be a better listener and less of a talker.  I want to put myself in the position of the student often and with joy.  What about you?

What about the here and now?

You don't get to be all wise and aware without a turkey neck and some wrinkles.  That's just the way the system works.  And it's a good thing that as we get older, our ideas about external beauty change.  It's less about flawless, well exfoliated skin and more about laughing hard and well and often.  Because if it was always going to be about flawless skin I would not be laughing hard at all at this point.

So you trade in the smooth forehead for a clearer vision of life.  You give up the anti-gravitational boobs (I think pert is the word I'm looking for - is that an under-35 word or what) for soft lines around your mouth that are impossible to hide when your happy or sad.  People see the real you so much easier when you are a bit older.  They see your joys and your pains and your tragedies and your hopes and your dashed moments.  Your past loves.  Your aching losses. All right there in your face.

It just becomes too much work to hide it all.  What a blessing.

What about your stuff?

Oh, here we are, back to all the things we carry around.  First the physical stuff.  Being honest about who we are means being honest about our stuff.  So we just better love what we carry around.  Otherwise, we need to part with it.  We're getting too old to hang on to things that are just a burden.  We need to lighten our load.

And as for the metaphorical stuff:  same principle.  By this age, we've either been through therapy a few times or have treated our friends  or kids like our therapists.  We each have our backpack, full of hurt, that we trudge around with us.  The question is, how long are we actually going to force ourselves to unzip it, pull everything out, and question why, again and again and again? It some point, the clichè becomes the truth.

It is what it is.

We are who we are.

It's not going to change.  But we can.  Despite all of it.

And we can give ourselves over to being happy.  We can give ourselves over to being fearless.  We can learn to trust our flawed, broken hearts and we can actually allow ourselves to believe in the goodness of life.  We can blast through self doubt and hidden agendas and act from the gut.

And we can be old, peeling, dried out and veiny and still spell out love to everyone you meet.  And that makes us just so awesomely beautiful.

(picture:  an old, peeling, dried out and veiny piece of Swedish-love-wood.  I know you think it's pretty.  I just know you do.)