My garden is filled with the wonders of nature, and I love taking photographs of the beautiful butterflies and handsome dragonflies and stunning birds. However, my experience behind the lens has taught me that not all of the specimens found in nature are perfect. My files include birds with deformed beaks and dragonflies with ragged wings. I identify one of my bunny visitors by the tear in his ear. Yesterday I photographed a butterfly that has clearly been through some tough times and is living out its last days.
I too am a little rough around the edges these days. I am not aging gracefully or with style. I don’t look as good as I did in my youth, and I was hardly perfection even then. A childhood spent working in the fields and climbing trees and living in poverty does not produce smooth skin and pretty nails and shining hair. I had scars before I was ten! So I never set high expectations for what I would look like as I aged.
I did however, spend a lot of tearful nights and stressed out days as a teenager because my classmates, cousins, and role models were all more attractive than the person I saw in the mirror. I tried….I tried so hard. But in the end I just couldn’t compete. My father, trying to be helpful I’m sure, once told me I could be pretty or smart, but not both- a short lesson in priorities and in focusing my energies and efforts on something attainable. So I gave even more attention to my studies and I’m thankful that I did.
What I realized after photographing the battered butterfly was that it was still going about the business of life, doing what every other butterfly was doing- flitting around in the sun, gathering nectar from the flowers, and enjoying the spring. It doesn’t matter if we are a little rough around the edges as long as we are able to live our life and do what we were born to do.
I walked down to the end of the driveway last night AND down to the pond. After the winter I have had with foot problems it was a satisfying accomplishment. Being and doing and going and experiencing should be our goals as we age. How we look should be secondary to how we feel, and is somewhat out of our control anyway.
I don’t really care what I look like in the mirror as long as I can stay healthy enough to enjoy looking at the rest of you!