A number of years ago, I realized that I could no longer see at close range well enough to attend to the basics of self grooming. Not yet ready to abandon makeup application and eyebrow plucking, I bought a magnifying mirror. Once again able to manage my daily primping, I could also see every flaw I had been avoiding for years, along with all the new indignities as they arrived: every wrinkle, spot, gaping pore and broken capillary was literally larger than life.

I mentioned my new mirror to my stylish (and much younger) co-worker. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “How do you stand it?”
As I answered her, I realized the truth and beauty of my reply.

“I figure that if I can get over the way I look magnified seven times, I can be confident that I will always look better than that to everyone else.”

I remembered our conversation the other morning, as I was getting ready for work. I stood in the bathroom, appraising myself, with half damp hair and no makeup. I noticed the way the hair at my temples  was coming in almost white, and how suddenly my eyes seemed bluer. I had a sudden reaction- not shocked, not smug, but just calm. “I’m beautiful.” It was more of a response to the way I was feeling than the way I looked: that I was where I should be, and that things would be ok, even if I couldn’t see exactly how.

My immediate response to the thought was regret that it had taken me 55 years to actively and spontaneously feel that way, and to wish that I had been kinder and more accepting of myself.   My next response was the awareness that the feeling wouldn’t last, and that if I didn’t get moving, I’d be late to work.