just ponderin'

… on wrinkled hearts

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Emergency Room, Lowell Massachusetts, March 18, 2015.

I have decided that, when my being is challenged by fear or threatened loss, or loss itself, my heart does not break.

It does not crack.

It does not bleed.

It does not skip a beat.

I have decided, after much thought…

It just gets another wrinkle.

Like my face, and like my body, as it grows and changes with the years.

I’m sort of liking the idea of my wrinkled heart.  All the wrinkles it has gathered so far, and all the wrinkles yet to come.

And here is why.

When I was younger, I paid a lot of attention to people’s faces.

Still do.

And I would look longingly at the faces of certain older people, searching for the best ones.

Older people often scare little kids.

They can be loud.

Or cranky.

Or grimace-y.

But some…

Some had the softest eyes.

The most gentle expressions.

And some, the best faces, they showed that the person had smiled, and laughed…

A lot.

You couldn’t just smile once and a while, like for a few years off and on, and get one of those faces.

You had to really earn it.

And I created a goal for myself, way back then, that I wanted one of those ‘best faces’.

JoHn, my Nearly Perfect Husband, knows this.  Because I told him about it long ago, when we were still teenagers.

To this day, he points these faces out to me.

“That’s a great one.” he’ll say, when we’re in an airport, or a store, or Disney World.  And I know exactly what he means, as I follow his nod and gaze to one of those best faces.

It’s in the way the deepest lines form at the sides of their eyes when they smile.  Ones that get shallower, but never quite go away, even when their faces relax.

It has to do with the way their whole faces smoosh upward when something great happens.  Like not one single millimeter or muscle wants to miss out.

Lines forming near craters on their cheeks.

Twinkles, in even the oldest eyes.

A life full of joy shows up for the party.

As I got older, I realized that there are other lines on those faces too.

Ones formed when things don’t go quite right.

During the darkest nights of worry,

And fear.

And loss so profound that the return of that first smile feels like a sunrise accompanied by an angel choir conducted by God himself.

Those lines also matter, and they are there.

But on the best faces?

The lines chiseled by joy kick them to the background every time.

Because joy is stronger than fear.

And sadness.

And loss.

Joy makes way better wrinkles.

If beauty is more than skin deep, then my beautiful wrinkles – the ones I’ve been working on for a really, really long time – can’t stop at the surface of my  self.

They must be deeper.

And if my heart is my command center for all I feel, then to be truly beautiful, and wise, and joyful…

It must have wrinkles of its own.

Glorious.

Twinkly.

Deep.

Wonderful.

Heart wrinkles.

And I embrace them, all of them.

On my face and in my heart.

They have been earned through smiles, and fears.

Laughter, and tears.

They represent life’s true beauty.

Inside and out.

Thanks for readin.

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Elena Peters

midlife blogger & pinterest master

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