Observation: By L.E. Taylor
It’s been said that we end up with the face we’ve earned. It’s also true that too many people not only deny the notion, but are so obsessed about it that they pay huge sums to have surgeons remove the evidence.
Be that as it may (or may not be), there are some excellent old kissers around that reflect wisdom, honesty, kindness, and hard-won battles with sorrow. And so much of it is beautiful. No, not the same skin-deep ‘beautiful’ that wowed ‘em forty years ago, but a refinement that says, ‘a life has been lived, and a price paid.’
Toward the end of his life, the movie star John Wayne made overtures to all kinds of people who’d disapproved of his Red-White-and-Blue politics, and of himself personally. He was invited, sarcastically, to come to Harvard University to receive an “honor.” He accepted. When he arrived on campus, the sponsoring leftist student group supplied the vehicle in which he was to enter The Yard: A WWII vintage Sherman tank. Wayne laughed and climbed aboard. Moments later, having run the gauntlet of taunts, the sick and haggard “Duke” arrived in the lecture hall and mounted the stage where he took questions. He handled the first pointed political thrusts with grace and intelligence, then the floor-mic was handed to a young fellow who asked bluntly, “Do you look at yourself as a great American hero?” A twinkle came into the old man’s eye and he replied, “Son, I don’t look at myself any more than I have to.”
The map inscribed upon The Duke’s face was beyond help from any lighting expert or makeup genius. But the sparkle in his eye won the day even in the camp of a hardened foe.
Going through my family archives for photos to use in these blogs, I came upon one of myself, at least forty years ago. I was a Midwestern version, then, of what came to be known in this next century, as a Mad-Man. (Madison Avenue “ad man”). Hmm. So later I sidled up to a mirror and was jolted. Who’s that?
I remembered the John Wayne story. Life has done its job on me. We don’t stay the same, but guess what: We do keep our souls. Maybe you’re still movie star handsome, and maybe it’ll survive. But trust me, you will ripen. Or you’re well along the way right now. Good for you. Good for us.
Go have a look at the old photos. And the looking glass, too. And don’t be sad. Don’t regret. Return to the moments that still live. And be thankful.