I am turning fifty-one is a few days, passing the half-century mark for good. I’m not afraid, but it does give me pause. I distinctly remember my sixteen year old self looking into the mirror, staring at my face, wondering what I would look like at the ripe old age of thirty. Now I barely remember being thirty.

I look into the mirror today and see the lines forming, some more deeply etched than others, thankful that many of them come from a lifetime of smiling. Those are the wrinkles that I will never regret. In fact, I won’t regret any of my wrinkles. I will embrace them, as they show a roadmap of my years on this planet, my laughter, my smiles, my worries, my sadness. All of these emotions have left their indelible imprint on my face, as well as on my heart and soul.

I look at my mother’s ninety-two year old deeply wrinkled face. She worries about her wrinkles constantly, looking for something to smooth them away, some magic potion. She told me once that she always gets a shock when she looks in the mirror, because her mind’s eye sees her younger self. She says she doesn’t feel as old as she looks. I know what she means now, as I feel the same shock when the mirror betrays my still young-feeling state of mind.

To me, though, my mother is absolutely beautiful. I see the sparkle of her blue eyes, her lovely smile, her spirit shining through every fiber of her being. My sister is fourteen years older than I, and she, too, is so beautiful. I know that wrinkles don’t have to take away our beauty…beauty is so much more than the face we present to the world. My mother and my sister are my mirrors, showing me what is to come, showing me there is no need for fear.

I’m not saying that I’m thrilled to see wrinkles cropping up all over my face, but since it is inevitable, why not keep a positive outlook? I’m doing my best to stay healthy and fit, to enjoy my life. I am working to build up reserves of love and laughter, of doing good for others, of loving my career as a musician and teacher, of nurturing friendships, nurturing my creativity.

I want my face to reflect my joy, my passion for life, my love of my husband, friends, and family. I want my face to reflect kindness, compassion, integrity, empathy. I want my face to reflect acceptance. Acceptance and the ability to let go of society’s blueprint for beauty, to embrace the reality that beauty is so much more. Even though the wrapping may be a bit wrinkled here and there, the package is lovely- if we make it so.

This next half-century will be full of new experiences, both good and bad, and those new experiences, those years, will continue to leave their mark on my face. I will wear the mark of time proudly the best that I can. Life is what we make of it, and I plan to live every moment, not hiding my face away in the shadows because it has wrinkles. Life is precious, not only to be enjoyed by the young, but also by the young at heart…and my inner child is alive and well.

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