FOOLED BY DEGREES By John Watts

 

dogman

I thank God for obliviousness in any way, shape or form I can get it.  Otherwise my overwhelmingly over sensitive nature tends to sabotage me and threaten to overload my senses with liberal doses of self-consciousness and worry.  And that’s not good for anybody.

Take the big preoccupation we all have of aging.  I was lucky to have 3 older, exemplary brothers reach critical maturity milestones before me.  So gradually losing most of my hair and being stunned to discover a thickening of my waistline were all modelled by my siblings way before me–with great grace and flair too I might add.  And I suppose that seeing how authentic they remained no matter what the permutations of time have wrought, kind of made me feel the same way about myself.

Fortunately I was never so successful in creating “Glory Days” type memories from some banner year; like Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico, that I could leave the past well enough alone as just a cherished memory and not as an obsession requiring some new time machine to transport me back to 1982.

I am also so very grateful that I can be lulled into accepting the raw deal that is getting old by very tiny little degrees—until it just  becomes a part of who I am—or who this version of me is.

In other words, I was never MADE old overnight by some atom bomb or horrific car accident.  My hairline retreated gently into the night; not dramatically.

Whatever the reason, all I know is that whenever I look in the bathroom mirror, even freshly after stumbling in from just waking up with my super fine patchwork of hair all splayed akimbo, I can still shake it off and grin like a loon at myself.

Something seems to insulate me.  No matter how far away I am from resembling Brad Pitt or even myself at 22; still I somehow manage to never be crushed by what I might see.  No “Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all” Snow White tale of temper tantrumming ensues for my not being number one in my age category.

Certainly my vision has been clear enough for me to spot the rogue gray hairs that creep in on the temples or speckle my goatee more thoroughly day by day.  My mind DOES make the connection of what, no doubt, lays ahead down the road like a complete submission of ALL gray hair, and an eventual shaving of the entire dome of my head as a final concession.

Until that day I do my best to follow what my wife tells me to do regarding my appearance and attire.  And I let her cut each encroaching gray hair on my side burns so as to feel like I am winning some hand to hand combat with time.

I appreciate her game attempts at making me more presentable.

And I hope to continue laughing at myself for a long time to come, God willing, if my health allows.  It’s when I can spot that same twinkle in my eyes and playfulness in my spirit, that I feel most reassured and no everything is still on track.  No matter how yellow my teeth look or the circles under my eyes darken.

Thank you nature.  Thank you Lord.  This means I can still casually stare at my visage in the bathroom mirror and not be repulsed or fearful that I have turned into some type of stranger to myself.

I still see the same capacity for realizing great dreams of daring do—except that now I am more aware of the fact that most of them will never get done based on scant opportunity, lack of time, and my poor ability to promote myself.

But this knowledge, rather than discouraging me ultimately makes me feel most at peace.  Just having an awareness of what constitutes true happiness, anchors me from worrying about my inner joy ever being stolen.

Yes I thank God for that slow trickling drip of the faucet that signals each days advance–one wrinkle at a time and one added gray hair.

I guard myself from let-down by remembering that I was present for every day of my life (with perfect attendance) through the decades and can account for where I was.

At least that’s what I can report for now.  Old age of course is the ultimate teacher of humility as their probably will come a time when I will not be so quick to smile when looking at myself in the mirror.

And then there’s other people’s points of view too to consider.  I am thinking of those friends and long acquaintances of mine who periodically check in on me on Facebook every few years.  Surely some of these folks have dismissively glanced at me, with no thought of being diplomatic, and decided right away—“Oh that poor guy!  “How has he allowed himself to look like this?”  What a toll time has taken on him!”

Often times it seems that the oblivious trick that we use to protect ourselves with, is completely absent in our appraisal of others.

But as I said before, I plan to never know about such harbored thoughts.  Because I am still possessed with the wonderful super power of being highly oblivious right?  And obliviousness will set me free in the end.  That, plus a large dose of humility (I am great at humility!) and God’s grace in not giving me more bad news than I can handle is the formula that I stick with.

Besides, I rather fancy looking like a NICE person rather than a nice LOOKING person any day of my life.  I would much rather look like a GREETER than a model any day of the week.

I also hope to retain that same flawed corniness till the very end.

And if I manage to keep it up and continue to stay protected by obliviousness—perhaps one day I may look in the mirror and discover that I have attained the ultimate ZEN state of appearance: uncannily resembling a cross between my dog and myself.  What could be nicer?  The only actors that never act in front of a camera are man’s best friend.

Me as a dog.  A larger nose than brain cavity.

Now that would be a sight for sore eyes!

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About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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