There's a lady at my gym. She's 85 if she's a day, her back is hunched, there's more hobble than walk in her gait, and I have never seen her without a smile. I've spoken with her briefly on a few occasions as we came or went in the locker room. She's quick to laugh and easy with a story in her thickly German-accented speech.
She makes me smile. Even when we don't talk. Just the sight of her working her way across the main gym floor makes me happy. I've always been intrigued by older people. I love their feathery skin and crinkly eyes. The personality in their hands. There are those that will bend your ear as long as you'll allow to detail their many ailments and there are those that will regale you with tales of tragedies or victories of days long gone.
I see this lady, with her smile, and I wonder about her. Is it a magic of biology that she survived the sorrows that any lifetime will dish out and still finds so much joy in every moment? Is it sheer force of will? Are there tears hidden away when others aren't looking? I see so much unhappiness. For every person like my smiley gym lady, I see a dozen sour folks. Faces pinched. A lifetime of sucking on life's lemons.
I lie in bed at night, the day's events running through my head and I find myself too often having to relax my tightly pursed mouth into a more natural pose. They say kids laugh a hundred times a day but as we grow up that diminishes until we're lucky if we get even a couple belly laughs out of every day. Do I laugh enough? Do I spend too much time frowning, yelling, scowling? I don't want to be one of those pinched face old ladies and I'm afraid that's the path I'm headed down.
So I'm making a choice to be happy, to smile as much as I can. Life is just too short, no matter how long you live, to be miserable. And you know what? Laugh lines? Are gorgeous.