This Is My Thirty-One

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It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve finally started to see it. I can see myself aging.

Every morning while I wait the few seconds it takes for the water to heat up for my shower, I stare at my face in the mirror. It’s bizarre to see lines that weren’t there before, and to be reminded my skin’s not so new-looking anymore. My eyebrows are getting quite unruly, and the hairs growing out of other places on my face seem to be daily picking up speed (and friends). Katie found my first gray hair on my 25th birthday. Six years later, both sides of my head are covered in silver.

It’s strange to realize there’s no going back to the way I was. My telomeres are only getting shorter which only means more wrinkles and more gray hair. I do feel a little sad I spent so much time waiting for the perfect me that never materialized. I waited and waited and must have blinked.

Still, there is freedom in coming to an understanding that there’s no more dreaming about how good I might look “one day.” Growing up, physically, is over. Things look how they look and that’s that. The outside work is done. This is the package I came in. It’s time to embrace it. From here on out, it’s all about maintenance, and I do myself a disservice if I believe otherwise. (This scene from A Bug’s Life seems quite appropriate here.)

Aging doesn’t frighten me. I’m not one of those people who dread it. I actually think it’s quite exciting, and I feel like there’s something special about the whole thing. After all, God did design this whole process, and so I believe there’s definitely something to be gained from each stage of life. Though I can’t say I’d prefer the signs of getting older if I were given the choice, the markings of age do mean something to me. They are my Ebenezer; they proclaim to the world that the Lord has certainly brought me this far.

It occurs to me that one day 31 will seem quite young. As I approached my birthday this last week, I thought it might be meaningful to capture an honest portrait of myself at this stage, a portrait that marked the beginning of when I saw myself starting to get older. Yesterday Katie and I spent about an hour trying to capture just the right shot. (I will make a photographer out of her yet!)

As I look at what we were able to get, I do have to say I wish they were a little bit more accurate to what I see in the bathroom every morning. The beautiful light in these pictures minimizes some of the marks which are much more pronounced in real life (at least I think so, anyway). The gray hair isn’t visible at all. The wrinkles aren’t so wrinkly. Maybe it’s accurate to say these photos are honest in how most people see me, since there are very few who see me in the mirror every morning. And if that’s true, I suppose I’m satisfied.

This is me. This is my thirty-one.

Brandon31a

Brandon31b

(To see them bigger, right-click and choose to either open the image in a new tab, or download the file.)