Brenda sent a question with the photos: “what do you see?”
I saw wrinkles.
Lines I wasn’t expecting. Lines that could not be avoided in the black and white still image, simply by moving faster away from a reflective surface.
She’d mentioned earlier that she was sending the images to her retoucher, and I’d half-wondered if she was going to have those kind of marks airbrushed away. I was disappointed. That would have felt like cheating. But when I saw they hadn’t been, I was a bit disappointed too. It was like: you’re not getting off that easy.
I messaged her about that (along with a host of my other reactions) and she replied, “I would never retouch time.”
I have been thinking about this ever since.
How, like it or not, embrace it or not, we are in a relationship with Time. A dynamic relationship. One that involves no standing still.
How epic it feels to us, to suddenly go from being in our thirties to hitting 40, or to see our kid go from being a baby to being off to University, or to see our parents after a while and notice how they’re completely grey… and our default response is “how cruel time is to us.” How fast it moves. How unrelenting. How nasty it is to mark us up so.
I know of people valiantly resisting this – billionaires pouring venture capital money into anti-aging technologies (because as everyone who has ever played Monopoly knows, once you are dominating the board, you are having so much fun, you never want the game to end, no matter how depressed, dispirited or even murderous-in-their-feelings-towards-you your game-companion have become.) I know of people accessing a range of “cosmetic” touch-ups and interventions to remove the trace of time on their bodies.
I tried for a while to make my peace with it, this visible aging stuff, by telling myself “the only way not to age is to be dead, so I’ll take this over that.” But it was kind of making the most of an unwelcome situation, really. A positive spin on an unfortunate reality. The price you have to pay for not being the alternative to older…
Something shifted in me, on reading Brenda’s words, “I would never retouch Time.”
Something that woke to the respect and honouring that Time deserves.
Here we mortals are, gifted a few years, a century tops, to encounter Time.
We’re like dandelion seeds floating in the wind. So tiny and ephemeral and easily blown about. Literally, in Time’s timeline, we are not even millimetres on a tape measure, we are so minuscule and microscopically small and insignificant.
And let us edge closer to Time and try and wrap our minds around it. The millennia it took glaciers to form and recede and carve landscapes. The aeons it took this little planet to become oxygenated. The amount of time the galaxy has been in existence. I can barely get my head around the idea of thinking for seven generations, even if I centre myself, so I only have to cast forward three and backward three. I can barely touch the span of 200 years with my mind – what did my great great grandmother wear when she set sail on the Minerva and left her home country to join the other new colonials in Australia? What did she pack?
And there is Time – this great busy god, shaping planets and pulling mountains up out of the deep, and inventing species and watching empires rise and fall, and taking a moment from that kind of Big Picture schedule of work to gently draw a line down my cheek to say, “yes, Lisa, you too are here and you too are part of this unfolding story and you too are noticed. I notice you. Carry on, beautiful. Revel in this series of moments. Isn’t it all just so very remarkable? Okay, off to move some tectonic plates around.”
Suddenly, it feels like a blessing to be touched in this way.
People lined up for hours to see the Queen’s casket, or to wave to a celebrity as they walk from their car into the building. Those fleeting encounters with our idea of Greatness or Majesty genuinely thrill and move us. But how great and majestic is Time? And how amazing that even our tiny little fleeting momentary lives are worthy of marking? That Time doesn’t overlook us, just because we are tiny and not here for long…
I will try and hold on to this sense of awe and blessing, next time I’m scrutinizing and scowling at my reflection.
But for now, I’m going to try to dance with Time, instead of cursing it. I think that will be a lot more loving. And fun.
A face blessed by Time. ❤ May I be so lucky. Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash
My experience with Brenda was as an early peek of an offering she is making, that is now available to the world. Honestly, I can’t recommend it more highly. It was radically transformative, in the subtle way that shifts in the way you perceive the world take place. It was deeply lovely as a morning… but there’s a long tail to it, that has been an immense gift. Check it out at https://www.brendabakker.com/experience
You can also follow along with her at https://www.instagram.com/beingbrendabakker/