A few days ago, my husband took some pictures of me. Being an amateur photographer, he is often snapping photos of me gardening, cooking, or spending time with my kids or dogs.
These photos were different, however. Initially, the idea of taking them was one I rebuffed. Now, I’m so glad we have them.
We had come home from a night out on the town and I was ready to change into my sweats. But before I could, my husband grabbed the camera and told me he wanted to take a few photos.
I’m a 46-year-old woman who just spent seven consecutive weeks on the road for business. My eyes have bags that rival the size of my suitcase. I was tired and not in the mood to smile for the camera. But my husband said something that gave me pause to reconsider.
He told me I am beautiful, not in spite of life but because of it. He told me that in 30 years, we would both look back with appreciation, even gratitude, for a photo that captures the essence of life. All of it.
I thought about his words for a few moments. Then I sat down so he could start taking pictures.
During that next hour, we talked about life. We recalled the moments when our children were born. We reminded each other of funny stories and shared laughter. We were subdued when recalling times of heartache and brokenness. And all the while, my husband was snapping photos.
The next morning, we looked at the photos together on his computer. I was amazed at what I saw.
To be sure, there are lines and wrinkles. There are imperfections. But there is a story and substance behind my eyes. There are years of happiness as evidenced by the laugh lines at the corners of my eyes and lips.
It’s said that an unexamined life is not worth living. But it’s equally true that an unlived life is not worth examining. I am certainly living a full and contemplative life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am what I have lived. The good and bad. The joy and sorrow. I have taken chances and failed. I have risked and won.
I’m comfortable in my own skin, even when it is sagging and showing its age.
Perhaps this is the gift of growing old. Life isn’t perfect. Neither am I. But life should be appreciated. It’s worth capturing the moments that are shared and celebrated, even when they aren’t picture perfect. Thanks to my husband, I have the photos to prove it.
This original content was edited and ran in my column “Bits and Pieces” in the Arizona Republic on March 12, 2014.