I sometimes wonder — what if this universe was devoid of all reflective surfaces? What if there were no mirrors? If we didn’t know what we looked like? What foundation, then, would our Towers of Vain be built on? What would become of our narcissistic pursuits? Would we even bother to doll up and blow vanity bubbles? Or seek reciprocity in vanity fueled romantic quests? Be passionate? Be alive?
Natural beauty takes 2 hours in front of the mirror, says Pamela Anderson. With no mirrors around, a multi-billion dollar global cosmetic industry would possibly be consigned to flames of redundance. Beauty would then truly lie in the eyes of the beholder.
Going about our morning ablutions, we look at the mirror and strike a spontaneous connect with our alter-ego. We smile. We grimace. We explore random expressions…seeking perhaps a subconscious validation of our existence in this world. Reassuring ourselves that we are still alive
Vanity, ego’s wild child, lives in a world of its own. It is nebulous and can crash at the site of unaesthetic proportions. So when we look into the mirror, we have already decided what WE want to see. No wonder they say that a monkey is superior to a man. When he looks into the mirror, he sees a monkey!
Each one of us has our own private affair with the mirror. My mirror and I too have spent some blissful decades in perfect harmony. But of late, this affiliation seems to be on the wane.
Our mutual trust is giving way to mounting trepidation. Age is catching up with my one-time siliconfidante. It’s losing its ability to reflect the ‘true’ me. It only believes in surface appearance (although a school of thought says, thank god mirrors show us our appearance only).
Show me a guy who says that a mirror never lies, and I’ll show you, two liars.
During my salad days, whenever a bubbly me peeped into the mirror, a mint-fresh face smiled back, giving me a quick vanity rub.
Today when the same vivacious me looks at this darn honey-trap, it throws back an unfamiliar wrinkly face that deflates my 100-watt smile to a zero-watt sulk. It’s clear that I’m no longer the extraordinary vision that used to set its pulse racing.
Once I shared a karmic connect with my alter-ego camping on the other side of the mirror. Today we are as disparate as geese and cheese.
I am still the young chirpy girl who loves to sing in the rain, dance with abandon, wear the freakiest of clothes, and lead a bohemian lifestyle with all caution thrown to the wind.
But my alter-ego is this stodgy matron with a unicolor personality palette. A predictable wife. A predictable mom. A predictable grandmom. Living life in a prescribed manner.
Time is gradually tolling my routine faculties and I can see my memory slide down the retention ladder with sadistic glee. Time is also reflecting in my invisibility to strangers. Epoxy eyes now just slide past me, salesmen look through me and young men at parties couldn’t care less whether I wore an LBD or Santa’s costume.
People often tell me I look younger than my years and express shock when I mention my age. You are not, they say, and I assure them, with grim relish, that I am.
Then I notice them scan me from the corner of their eyes for tell-tale signs of augmentation jobs. Suddenly I start feeling like a creep in a sheep’s clothing — the proverbial mutton dressed as lamb. I don’t really know whether to rejoice the moment or regret it.
Each one of us has earned a slot within our peers’ Attribute Recall Parameter through a USP (unique selling proposition) — a kind of epithet deployed by them to remember us: intellectual.. smart.. intelligent..
humorous.. witty.. pretty.. and so on. While most attributes, like wine, only improve with age, the last one, like beer, comes with an expiry date. So in the prescribed checklist, if pretty is what you are ticked against (for some reason), every fresh wrinkle that sprouts on your face are bound to give you a dollop of extra grief than usual.
In my case, as mother nature merrily goes sprinkling wrinkles on my face, I worry about developing some sustainable faculty (blogging, for instance !).
As Emily Fox says, “at the end of middle age, nearly every blessing is hinged to a curse that has fallen on someone else. At least I don’t have varicose veins; at least I don’t have a bald spot; at least I don’t have a dowager’s hump.
Surely there’s a diminishing utility in these kinds of comparisons, which extend seamlessly from minor gloating to deadly schadenfreude. (At least I haven’t lost my mind. At least I’m not alone.)”
I also have a JV with Emily Fox’s claim that as decline starts ascending, our understanding of fellow women improves. The camaraderie deepens as our sags and wrinkles unite us in kinship.
Why just women, I understand men better too. Their insecurities. Their triumphs. And their testosterone subjugation. How could I have missed it as a teenager?
My empathy meter is better calibrated now. I react less, understand more. The rough outer layers of my personality are peeling off. A serene sweetness is being unraveled gradually.
My mood colors are less borderline. I no longer pendulate from pits of melancholy to peaks of ecstasy. I am candid yet compatible. Laconic, yet lively. I am better at containing my impulses and reigning in my reactions.
The moral nonchalance of yesteryears is gone. The buoyant self-destructive disposition has given way to conscientiousness and prudence.
My mind is still agile but the innards feel a bit fragile. Drinking binges have dried to a trickle. An extra shot of vodka or a reckless indulgence in fried comforts is enough to make me feel poisoned.
I can no longer pop a piece of chocolate randomly in my mouth. As the appetite shrinks, awareness of the difference between gourmet and gourmand expands
I am more disciplined about my workouts, my eating habits, about popping my garden-variety pills — those potent arrows in my quiver of rejuvenation.
Though not exactly gasping at the thought of personal extinction, I want to do my bit to supplement mother nature’s effort to keep me healthy till my last day.
My efforts are less a byproduct of the vagaries of vanity, and more an attempt to establish a deeper connect with the inner me. When I look good, I feel good. When I feel good, I feel healthy. And if health is wealth, I feel like a million bucks.
Life’s good and as for the Youth gone Yonder, I can only say Thank You for the Music. To say otherwise would amount to ingratitude.
So chronologically I’m going to grow forever, but biologically, I pledge to be Forever 21. And here’s how I’d like to sum up my half -a-century-plus on this planet ….
As a Bird-Brained Teenager,
Confusion Reigned my Heart
Now the Mind and Thoughts are Together
But the Body’s falling Apart
Rekindling the Bedroom Romance
is now a Big Fight
It takes all Night to do
What we did all Night
They say Age is an issue
of Mind over Matter
If you don’t mind
It doesn’t really matter
But Matter it Does
When things get Badder
The Memory goes Shrinking
the Body gets Fatter
Earlier Make-up was optional
It’s now Mandatory
Without it, This Gori
would Look pretty Gory
My Beauty-Spots have now
morphed into Age-Spots
Hubby whispered last night
Can I play join the Dots?
My spirit of Adventure
is kissing the Dust bin
For every ONE night out
I need THREE nights in
Never imagined Discos
and Night clubs
would become a NO GO
Even Midlife Crisis happened
a Lifetime ago
They say Age is just a Number
Don’t fret and Fume
I say if Age is just a Number
then Jail is just a Room
But Life is what I make it
To Be or Not To Be
And today I’m the youngest
I’m ever gonna be
So let me grab this moment
Without sulk or Strife
Because today is the FIRST day
of the Rest of my Life
My hair has turned gray
but Life is colorful
A deeper Connect with Myself
makes it Meaningful
My Body may be Waning
but my Mind is Seskier
I now take my Decisions
with no trace of Fear
What Age has taken away,
Wisdom has Compensated.
I now firmly believe Youth
is truly Overrated.
Seeing the price of Immaturity
that Youngsters have to Pay
Youth Is Wasted on the Young
I simply HAVE to say
My life is now embellished
with More Layers, More Fun
And I’m forever Optimistic