Speaking of poetry . . . I may not be able to write poems anymore, but this lady sure can. She made me cry.
I looked in the mirror and what did I see,
but a little old lady peering back at me,
with bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair,
and I asked my reflection, “How did you get there?
You once were straight and vigorous, and now you’re stooped and weak
when I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique.”
My reflection’s eyes twinkled, and she solemnly replied,
“You’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside,
a living gem and precious of un-imagined worth,
unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth.
The years that spoil your gift wrap with other things more cruel
should purify and strengthen and polish up that jewel.
So focus your attention on the inside, not the out—
on being kinder, wiser, more content, and more devout.
Then, when your gift wrap is stripped away, your jewel will be set free,
to radiate God’s glory, throughout eternity.”
The “little old lady” reciting this poem is Wanda Goines. She was 92 when this video was recorded in 2015. According to ABC News, she wrote the poem years ago, but it only became known when her caregiver posted this video on YouTube. Today it stands at almost 3.5 million views . . . Not bad for a little old lady!
I’m 33 and can already relate to this poem. I say “already” because, at 33, 33 doesn’t seem so old. When I was 23, 33 was “pretty old”; at 13, accordingly, it meant “almost dead” . . . This perspective will change yet again when I am 43, and 53, and 63. When I am 73, 33 will probably mean “baby,” and that, to be honest, scares me. These last 33 years have been far from easy; if 33 equals “baby,” I’m terrified of what’s to come.
But that’s kind of Wanda’s point, isn’t it?
Life is hard — for everyone — and over the years it does things to our appearance that we don’t always like. At 33 I have more wrinkles than I did at 23. I have more gray hairs. (Okay, I haven’t actually seen any yet, but that’s because I’m blonde . . .) I get sore more easily. I take longer to heal when sick or wounded. If had a rock-climbing accident today like I did at 18, I probably wouldn’t survive.
No one is immune. Everyone will die.
And that’s why Wanda is right on. In this world of superficiality, where youth is worshiped and beauty idolized, even the rich and famous get old, and no amount of plastic surgery or fancy clothing can change this. The only thing we have control over is how we live. How much we love, care, laugh, strive — these are the things that matter. These are the things we’ll be remembered for.
I am reminded of Princess Diana. She was a beautiful woman, certainly, but I would argue that she’s remembered as much for her kindheartedness and love as she is for her beautiful face. By contrast, certain celebrities considered beautiful today somehow become less beautiful in light of their selfish or foolish actions. We are what we eat, and also, how we act. Love is greater than beauty. Love is beauty.
Note: This is a reminder to myself as much as it is for the reader. Lord knows I worry about my appearance far too much!
Great post Jess! At the grand old age of 57 I can confirm that 33 is baby 😂, but the best thing I’ve found about being in my 50’s is that how you look is not a thing anymore, yes be neat and tidy and enhance what you’ve got left (if anything!) but really no-one cares what you look like anymore, they care that you are loving and kind, and easy to be with.
That’s a wonderful perspective, Fraggle! I hope I can accept aging graciously; it may be challenging, as I have always been rather hard on myself. I KNOW that what’s most important is not our appearances, though. Love and kindness are key!
You are correct, Jess. I am days shy of 63 and 33 seems so long ago. I wear the wrinkles, scars and gray hairs like a badge of honor. I earned all of them. Best of luck as you earn yours.
Thank you, Dan. I love your perspective. And Happy Birthday!! :)
Thanks Jess – Good to see you out here.
I just turned 53, and you are right. Every year that rolls by brings different things. Some are successes, some are struggles. But all of those things make you what you will be ten years from now, twenty years, and on and on. I know people, we all know people, who resist change or avoid the “bad things.” I have always thought that all of our experiences are things we should … experience. We should live them and wallow in them. Of course, we don’t want to seek out bad experiences or things that will hurt us, either physically or emotionally. But neither should we turn away from those things when they happen. They are a part of who we are.
It’s funny that you comment that you get sore more easily. That is certainly a reality of getting older, but as you say … What we can control is how we choose to live our life. Ignore the soreness, ignore the pain, keep living and doing and being.
Ibuprofen is your friend 😂
I’ve spent most of my life experiencing some level of physical pain or discomfort from physical activity. And I have yet to pop ibuprofen regularly or let that pain or discomfort stop me from continuing to try to get out there.
I take ibuprofen, Fraggle! It helps! :D
You make some great points, Mark. I know absolutely that our experiences — good and bad — are what make us who we are. That’s why, to a certain extent, our identities are always changing. I am not the same person I was at 23. I agree that we shouldn’t try to avoid challenging situations just because they are difficult; I also agree that we shouldn’t resist change, especially not when it comes to growth within ourselves. We shouldn’t change for others, of course, but if we never change/grow, then we never really live/learn.
And, haha! Yes, the aging process has its blessings and curses, doesn’t it? As you know, I stay very active and intend to for as long as I can. It really is true: If you don’t use it, you lose it!
Wow, all of us are something three in this comment section! I’m about to turn 43, so we have the whole set! This article would have been great for a series I’m hosting this month. If you get a chance check it out: https://theseekersdungeon.com/rage-against-the-machine-month/ I would love to get a guest post from you for it, but I know you are so busy now. Still I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least ask, so consider this an official invitation. Hope you’re well. Still can’t believe it anytime I think of your rock climbing accident. I don’t how you survived even at 18.
Hi Sreejit! You’ve asked me so many times, and I have yet to follow through. Yes, I am busy, but I am also excited about getting back into blogging. I’ve missed it — and you! I just looked at your page. I know exactly what I’ll write. Give me a week or so, but I’ll be in touch!
Yeyyyyy! Can’t wait.
Check your email. Hope I’m not too late… Also, because I need new material on my blog, I may double post here! Hope that’s okay!
Another powerful post, Jess. I found Wanda’s poem very touching. It is what’s in us that says the most – what’s within us is probably something very complex but it is so beautiful when set free. That thing…is simply us.
‘We are what we eat, and also, how we act. Love is greater than beauty. Love is beauty.’ Such a powerful line, and so true. How we act and the choices we make ultimately comes right from the core of our personality, the core of our mind, emotions and heart. When we act, we do, we love.
All quite true, Mabel! What’s funny is that my 84-year-old grandpa read this post and laughed at me for feeling old at 33!
Speaking of our “core…” I’ve recently come across the saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them…” Not everyone is beautiful and full of love inside — not because they couldn’t be, but because they’ve chosen not to be. This makes me sad and often gets me into trouble because I find myself not believing what I see and searching for beauty that isn’t there… I sense another blog post coming on!