Saturday, November 05, 2011

self portrait

My friend Michealle mentioned that I'm always hiding behind my camera. True, I said. And I haven't really looked at myself for a long time; too busy, too distracted, too painful to see, what with increasing age and wrinkles and all. So yesterday I had my camera and a moment to spare in the car and I took a few shots in the mirror. Paul always hates these kinds of shots; he says I never smile and I'm always scowling in them, but it's more just my habitual expression, I think. I don't think of this as scowling, but it's certainly not the usual cheese for the camera look people make. Puzzled and rather saddened by the world, maybe.

It's an odd thing, looking at one's own face after taking lots of portraits of others. With other people I always feel an odd sort of tenderness towards their imperfections and there's always something beautiful and interesting or striking about their faces, something unique to be treasured. I have a hard time seeing such things in my own face unless I can step back and treat the person in the picture as if she were a complete stranger. She looks sad, I think. No makeup at all, no real attempt to 'put on a face' for public viewing. Doesn't feel the need to bother to create a front, perhaps. I see my father's face looking back at me, with his eyebrow structure and his sort of semi-scowl. He was a handsome man when he was young and even when he was older and the cancer was eating away at him he was still striking. I always wished I had a strong face like his, but I always felt squishy and unformed, too soft. Too malleable, like a soft clay.

Well, I've decided I don't feel so soft and squishy on the inside anymore, though my outside may have gotten more squishy with increasing age. I keep looking at older ladies and realizing that the ones I admire the most have strong spirits, scarred perhaps by hard things that have happened in their lives, as happens to all of us eventually, but with their sense of humor and whip-smart wit intact. I'd like to be like that, I think. The outside appearance does matter, I find, but I care less as I get older what people think. I have become more outspoken and less willing to gloss past people's unthinking insensitivity towards others. Maybe it's from having kids and trying to teach them right from wrong; it makes you much less patient with badly behaved adults.

Squishy on the outside, tougher on the inside. Still a work in progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment