Friday, May 10, 2013

unkempt

You catch yourself looking at yourself in the mirror. And you have to laugh.

What on earth are your eyebrows doing? You look like a younger version of Einstein. So you lick the tip of your finger and try to brush them into submission. Better, but things are still a little haywire. The humidity did a wonder on your hair, leaving it unpredictable and wiry. Your skin is peeling a bit on your chin. You've got a smudge of mascara underneath your left eye.

"Good God! I'm a fiasco!" you think.

You chuckle into the mirror. Yes, you are a fiasco. You are a nut and a half. You try so hard, you really do. Yet you do not have everything under control. And it's a little endearing sometimes.

I'm reminded of Anne Lamott, who graciously named her thighs "The Aunties," and relives a moment in a bathing suit when she had to stand amidst four teenage girls in bikinis.

"I touched the aunties gently, to let them know I was there, and that made me less afraid. Ugliness is creeping around in fear, I remembered. Yet here I was, almost naked, and - to use the medical term - flabbier than shit, but deeply loyal to myself...

When I got to my room, I took a long, hot shower and then stood studying myself in the mirror. I looked like Divine. But then I thought about the poor aunties, how awful it must feel to have me judging them so harshly - the darling aunties! A gasp at this injustice escaped my lips, and my heart grew soft and maternal and then I said out loud, "God I am so sorry," and the aunties tucked their heads down shyly, not knowing now if they were safe....I put on my sexiest T-shirt, my cutest underpants, and I slathered rose-scented lotion on my legs, rubbing it in gently with the indignation of a mother who has rescued her daughter from school-yard bullies or the hands of the Philistines." 
-Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott

I had my Anne Lamott moment in the bathroom at work, looking at my lovable pitifulness and saying to myself, "this is good." 

We try so hard to have everything under control all the time. Why not cut ourselves some slack? We will never have everything under control all the time. Rearranging the exterior, layering on the makeup or getting a new outfit won't help if we are not kind to ourselves, if we don't feel a warm affection for who we are. Besides, it's what we do in the midst of chaos that defines who we are, deep in the core, right?

So what if, in the midst of chaos, we found joy? What if, when we looked in the mirror, crazy eyebrows and all, we smiled?