Should I worry about what tomorrow will look like when my body today is perhaps the strongest and loveliest it will ever be?
I bought a new moisturizer to use at night. I chose it because it was on sale and the package used the word “Retinol” — which I recall my dermatologist using approvingly once. So I grabbed the little pot of cream and took it home.
When I used the cream one night, I noticed that the fragrance of it reminded me of cake batter. It was a surprisingly pleasant association, sweet and comforting all at once. Like a vanilla cupcake with some sprinkles on the icing.
Suddenly, the act of washing and moisturizing my face before bed had a new dimension: olfactory pleasure that went beyond utility.
We buy these creams and cleansers and diet plans and exercise regimes for the promise of what they will do later. It's no mistake that skin care products list a timetable of results you can expect to see as you continue using them.
In two weeks time... in four weeks time... after six months of regular use...
We massage hope into our cheeks and forehead and wait for miracles to materialize.
The longer I live, the more strongly aware I am that there are no promises of health or wholeness.
A few years ago, a friend who was not yet 40 was diagnosed with breast cancer. The prescription included a double mastectomy, reconstruction of her breasts, and — if she wanted an approximation of a nipple — there's a guy named Vinnie in Baltimore who does great 3D tattooing. Sometimes insurance will even pay for it.
My neighbor got a virus last summer: headaches, vertigo, nausea. When the fever abated, the hearing in one ear was gone. Wait and see, they told him. Wait and see if it comes back.
It's been six months and now they're telling him his options for hearing aids.
My childhood friend lost her hair last year. It began falling out in clumps. Stress-induced alopecia is the diagnosis. She could undergo a chemo-like regime to fix it. Instead, she shaved her head.
The body and face we have today are such tenuous things. The longer I live, the more strongly aware I am that there are no promises of health or wholeness. Beauty is fleeting, and does it matter anyway if your body suddenly ceases to work the way it “should”?
Would I regret the days I spent peering at imperfections if suddenly my sight were gone? Would I regret the calculus of steps taken to calories burned if I one day couldn't use my legs at all?
Should I worry about what tomorrow will look like when my body today is perhaps the strongest and loveliest it will ever be? Do I need to care what will happen in two weeks time... in four weeks time... after six months of regular use?
I've been using my new night cream for a couple of weeks now. My skin looks the same as it did before I bought it. I am a woman aging apace, I cannot deny it. Somewhere on this journey of mine. I resigned myself to the knowledge there is no turning back the clock. Those little pots of creams and cleansers hold no miracles.
But the one I'm using smells like cupcakes. It's a final sensory experience of the day, and I breathe in a soft pleasure. I don't know what my body will do tomorrow — so all I have is the moment. The beauty has to come from enjoying it.