One of my students told me I look like a smoker.
What the heck?
Ok, it wasn’t out of the blue. We were talking about the rights and wrongs of teenagers purchasing e-cigarettes and the topic expanded and I said something about smoking being bad or not doing it or something along those lines, and she expressed surprise that I don’t smoke and said I looked like the kind of person who smokes.
I peered closely at myself in the mirror. Sure, I have some lines and my neck is getting pretty droopy and there are bags under my eyes, but I don’t think I look like the poster granny for lung cancer.
Ok, so let’s give the student the benefit of the doubt. After all, English is her second language. Maybe she didn’t mean I look like a smoker so much as I have the attitude of a smoker.
Lord help, that’s even worse. I really don’t think I want to go there. In fact, I’d better stop now before I really get myself into hot water. There are some people in the world that I love a lot who are smokers.
And so what if I have some wrinkles? What’s wrong with wrinkles? After all, you can’t be a spring chicken forever. I’m thankful for my health and strength and all the things that I can do and feel and think about. I don’t have to be a spring chicken to walk and do yoga and sing and travel the world.
I may not be a spring chicken anymore, but I’m no old gray mare, either. There’s still a lot of attitude in me. Not a smoker’s attitude–whatever that might be–but curiosity, like that chicken scratching away at the dirt, seeing what it can find. There’s still a lot of growing to do, and learning, and exploring. There’s so much joy to be found in life. I’m not going to give it up to worry about wrinkles. I’m going after the joy. The wrinkles will be there anyway, if I do or if I don’t.
So for my sweet student, No, I’m not a smoker. If I look like one, it’s because I’ve been living for a lot of years, and my experiences have drawn lines on me, many painful ones and many joyous ones. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for a smooth, wrinkle-free face. I wouldn’t want to go back and start over again.
I’ll just live here in my skin until it’s time to leave it.