Sometimes, people look at me with perplexed faces. People that have known me my whole life, whom I haven’t seen in years. Their eyes search mine piercingly, often for what seems like interminably long moments, and they are confounded. They all reach the same conclusion, their faces are filled with amazement as they say, almost dumbfounded “But, you haven’t changed at all.” I assure them I have, I am taller, and older, and greyer, I am more more achey, and slightly larger, and I hope, a lot wiser. my standard response is that I have indeed changed, and it’s just hair dye. They are always dismissive and tell me I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m just an old soul and people saw that in me when I was a child and a teenager. Maybe I just never grew up, and the light they see in there, that glint in my eyes, is my inner child still bursting with life. Maybe it’s just good genes, my parents both look years younger than they are. Maybe I’m destined to look the way I did as a toddler all through my life, although some may consider that a curse.
I think it’s because I allow myself to feel. To feel all of it, the highs and the lows, the joy and the pain, the laughter and the tears. Don’t get me wrong, I’m do not display these things overtly, ok, the highs and the joy and the laughter I do, but the rest of it, the lows, the pain and the tears are things I generally hold to myself. I do not wish to cause anyone else to feel these things, so I process them, by and large, alone. I have found over the years that whitewashing over them does not help, I can’t pretend they are not there, there are repercussions to such actions which are less than delightful. They do not disappear if you pretend they don’t exist, instead, they manifest in other ways, in tiredness, in stress, in illness, my mind and body conspire to ensure that I will take time to process things.
So, to avoid the subconscious self sabotage I do my utmost to work things through, even if its just reaching the point of acceptance. Those around me will have heard me say many times “It is what it is” or “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is”, or even ‘It’s just shit”. There are many things we cannot change about our lives and the things that happen to us. The only thing we can change, the only thing we do have control over, is how we respond to them. Change what you can, accept what you can’t and find the humour in every situation.
There is much laughter in my life, much joy and much happiness and for that I am eternally grateful. I am fortunate in that I can find the humour in any situation, yes, sometimes I have to stop myself from laughing at inopportune times, and I have had strangers look at me oddly as I start chuckling to myself whilst out in public, but it’s a price worth paying.
The only thing I really struggle with, always have, probably always will, is what I call the nothingness. That void, that emptiness where there are no feelings, some people prefer it, but for me, I would rather spend a year in tears than in the nothingness. In closing ourselves off from our feelings we are closing ourselves off from the world. Feeling, lets us know that we are alive, it’s what makes our lives worth living and it keeps us linked to our humanity.
I am fortunate, the people that surround me, by blood and by design are pretty damned wonderful. Yes I would rather see the good in people than the bad and I know that we all have our faults, I am not blind to my own, nor those of others, but we can choose to focus on what is bad, or we can accept that it’s there, that we and the world we live in are imperfect, and choose to see both the world’s and people's inherent beauty and goodness. It’s not difficult, it surrounds us every day, all we have to do is look for it.
So there you have it, my secret to the fountain of youth. It can’t be bottled and there is no pill. By blood and by design… good genes and feel everything.
For those of you that are going to ask for photographic proof here it is. Ok, maybe there is something to what they say after all…