Thursday, September 02, 2010


I caught my reflection in a store window the other day and staring back at me was the face of my grandmother.

Granted, I was wearing a cycling cap, so my luxurious salt n’ pepper locks were hidden from sight, but cripes, there she was, all jowls and wrinkles, eyes like two raisins pressed into a sticky bun, neck looking like beef jerky stretched over a water balloon.

Could this really be me, the same young man who only moments ago had a jawline so sharp you could slice tomatoes with it?

I don’t believe in an immortal soul, but if I did, the disparity between the person I am on the inside and the external image I present to the world would be a serious point in favor of it.

You always hear old folks—ones even more ancient than me—say stuff like, “I still feel like I’m 24,” and though I’d peg it more like 27 and a half, it’s true: while my mortal coil has lost some spring, the kinetic energy contained within seems just as random and scatterbrained as ever.

And yet, it’s obvious that we are our bodies, in spite of it feeling, from time to time, as if we’re looking at things from within a tumble-down cottage that was all shiny and new just yesterday.

In the Phaedrus, Plato argues that beauty is the one aspect of true reality which we can perceive; it sparkles with particular clarity since the keenest kind of perception comes through seeing; it is only beauty, he says, that is especially visible and especially lovable. Unfortunately, that face reflected back at me has lost its shine; the eyes may still twinkle a little—but that could just be sunlight bouncing off my glasses.

Of course, there’s nothing older than complaining about being old; the obvious solution to this state of affairs is to refrain from looking at one’s reflection.

And probably, to avoid cycling caps.


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