“Your hair! Your beautiful hair! Oh, Jo, how could you? Your one beauty.”
~Louisa May Alcott in Little Women
My hair reaches almost to my waist. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I ignored it for a while and I let it grow and grow and grow. My daughter turned to me in the car a few days ago and told me it’s time to cut it off. I protested. She said, “Mom, it’s almost to your waist. C’mon. You don’t want be that mom.”She’s right, of course. I don’t want to be the mom hanging on to the last vestiges of my youth, clinging to my “one beauty”.
Growing older is strange, and I find myself looking in the mirror and seeing less and less of who I used to be. This is simultaneously horrifying and also a very,very good thing. When I look back on my past self, I admire her smooth skin and her bright eyes. She is thin, with every body part facing in the proper direction. She is almost weightless except for the soul she carries. The soul feels heavier than a girl’s soul has a right to be, dragging around boulders of fear and rule-keeping and insecurity. I didn’t know myself then, the real me hidden under all the extra soul-weight.
But here is the beauty in growing older. I have chipped away at every heavy thing. Every boulder is crushed down to rock and pebble, and I pick these up piece by piece to make space for my true self. I am no longer just the face I see in the mirror. I am a soul emerging from the rock, like a sculpture set free from the prison of its stone face.
I love my crazy long hair, but it isn’t my one beauty. The beauty lies in the lines that have etched themselves like stories across every part of me, inside and out. It lies in the freedom of knowing who I am and whose I am. The beauty lies in emerging from the stone, a work of art.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? What stories do your lines tell?