While looking in the mirror recently I was struck by all the lines, ridges and crinkles on my face, as if somehow this process had been a spontaneous event rather than a gradual change. The common reaction in movies and media would be for me to respond with consternation and some humorous quip like “where did this old guy come from?” Then I would immediately rush out to the pharmacy to purchase the latest anti-aging beauty aid to wash them all away.
But life is not like the movies and I don’t view my aging markers as something to shy away from or even consider reducing. My lines, creases, and indentions each represent experiences and moments in my life which I treasure and would never want to forget.
My “Experience Holders”
As I stared into the mirror I looked at each line and skin-fold and realized how much life went into earning each and every one of these marks. It is not a sign that I’m getting old, but a sign that my life has been filled with experiences and each wrinkle is simply a place my face has created to store that experience.
Thus, from this day forward I propose that we rename wrinkles and move forward promoting them as badges of honor. Each ripple, furrow, and gather shall henceforth be named an “experience holder”.
My experience holders are reminders of different times in my life and how I earned the marks. These lines represent a past that shaped who I am today and life I am living right now. I can look at my holders and recall:
- The evening carving pumpkins with dear friends and the hours of laughter as we shared stories, drank good wine, and showed off our creativity. I wear the “laugh lines” around my mouth proudly as it’s an evening I want to reflect on often and my holder has created a visual reminder of a fantastic evening.
- That afternoon in the Denver airport, when I met Betsy for a drink. It was the first opportunity to see her in over 2 weeks and I knew after we parted that our lives needed to change or we would lose each other. The worry lines on my forhead remind me of this critical juncture in my life and the concern and then actions taken to bring us back together.
- The intensity of the sun in Antarctica. I have no doubt that one of these lines was created to hold the memories of looking out across the icebergs as the sun reflected back, causing me to squint. The beauty was too great to even contemplate looking away and if I added a new line or 2 to my face then it is the perfect souvenir to bring back from the end of the earth.
We are all living a lives filled with experiences and I have no doubt you have developed a few places to store them. Your face, and those of the people around you, are gaining stories with each new line and fold. Live your life to fill each wrinkle with experiences you can share with others and reflect back upon with happiness.
Look out for the experience holders on you and those who surround you and:
- Embrace your own experience holders and realize what amazing memories each one holds. The birth of a child (and many more from raising one), thousands of hours of laughter and smiles with people you love, the long days spent hiking in the mountains squinting to see the next peak in the distance.
- Ask others to share their experiences. There are stories behind every line on a face. Ask about those stories and listen intently as you get the opportunity to share in someone else’s past.
- Realize that every “experience holder” represents an experience, a story, a love, a loss, an adventure, a laugh, a smile, or a moment of quiet contemplation. See others as a collection of experiences, and not a sum of their years. Don’t judge them for their wrinkles, but embrace them for a life lived.
For each of you, embrace your own experience holders and strive to create more. Fill each one with rich memories and moments of joy, happiness, and loud robust laughter. You are defined by the experiences with makes up your life, not the lines on your face. Let those lines be badges representing a life lived to it’s absolute fullest, where every dream, ambition, and passion can be discovered by telling the story contained each of you experience holders.