I didn’t realize how obsessed I had become until my daughter innocently wondered why I always want to know how old everyone is and furthermore why I Google how old everyone is. In fact, every time I type the word "how" in the Google search bar, it immediately provides the word "old" before I even type it. Oh, Google. You know me too well...(by the way, remind me to erase my search history more often)
So the other day, we were watching a commercial with a woman who looked close to my age and I re-phrased my usual question (for subterfuge) and asked if my daughter if she thought that the actress was older or younger than me. Expecting, of course, for her to immediately say, "Oh Mom!! She's way way older!" She paused. Then she said, "Oh Mom!! She's way way older."
But here's the thing. She paused!! I forced myself to wait a reasonable amount of time before racing upstairs to assess the situation (and drown in my own tears and vanity). Later, I googled how old that particular actress was. One year younger than me! I didn’t know how to feel. Obviously I chose to feel bad.
There’s a little voice in all of us, though. I only know this because I have a have only been able to scratch the surface of my screwedupness but if I, of all people, recognize the little voice, I know it must be true of everyone. It’s that voice that says you are more than your looks. The voice that tells you are more than the fill in the blank of whatever you obsess about.
You know when you get all introspective and start asking the big questions of yourself? This mood can happen after a crisis or a sudden loss. For some, it's after a few drinks, for others, after watching a Disney movie. For others (me), really just anytime between waking up and going to bed. At a certain point in life, a person should ask themselves this. (In their heads, preferably.)
The question is this: what is the best thing about me? I’ve got the bad stuff nailed but what is the good? Come on, humour me, just ask it! Why? Because it’s interesting. There’s usually something that pops into your head the very second that you ask yourself this. It’s that thing you shove aside thinking, naah, okay but REALLY. What is the best…stop. Go back. That very first thing you think of when you wonder what you have going for you. Just the fact that it was the first thing can tell you so much about yourself.
It might be that you are a great parent. And you go, meh. That's not a real thing. But wait - it really REALLY is. Think about it! How many people go around shaping little lives from infancy to all grown-up and beyond? Okay, well, lots of people...but that doesn't make it an easy job. It is enough! We’d all do society a favour by not pretending that’s not a little thing. It’s huge. Stop reading this and go call your mother. Wait! Okay, maybe just finish reading this post, then call her.
It might not be huge like that, though. The first thought might be simple and almost silly. Like the way you did all the voices when you read your kids a story. Or put M&M's into their lunch along with the super healthy carrots and whole-grain bread. Or the way you put your phone down to look the cashier in the eye and say hello. The way you rush to pick up the coins for the feeble old man in front of you. We all have a little thing that points to a much bigger thing that is kinda good, right? I mean, even if it seems deeply (deeply) buried in some people.
Unless you have had your head firmly entrenched in the sand, you would know how obsessed our current culture is with outward appearance and would agree that it might be a relief to go inside and have a little look around, see what’s there.
I’m kinda tired of wondering how old people are. I’m tired in general because people my age are statistically due for good old insomnia and I'm nothing if not punctual. So there are bags under my eyes. Leading to the classic paradox. My worry over my fading looks is causing my looks to fade. I really have nothing to lose by asking myself the same question.
I swear if my first thought is that I am really good at finding nice shirts long enough to cover my bum, I will give a good re-think to my life's purpose. I promise.
(but I am really good at finding stuff to cover my bum?!)
(Someone stop me. That's not a thing)