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Beauty can be found everywhere

It has been a beautiful snow. Even now, on trash collection day with a variety of containers lining the streets, it is a wonderland outside. All kinds of junk is piled up to be hauled off by the city trucks, but that will probably not happen today. City employees instead will be busy clearing the roads for this evening’s commuters. However, no one will care, as the refuse is covered with a beautiful coat of white.
I have just come in from sweeping my walks and I find that I, too, am covered with the light, fluffy, white stuff. The snow will melt inside my warm house, and instead of wearing a glorious crown of white, I soon will be feeling the cold melting snow as it drips off my head and down the back of my neck. No longer a thing of beauty or a sign of a job well done.
Snow, when it falls from the heavens, lands and lights up everything: trash and discards, details of landscaping, good pavement and bad. It does, indeed, create an atmosphere of peaceful silence as it muffles sound and covers imperfections. It is as if everything is to stop and pause in creation’s beautiful harmony.
Snow, however, melts, but here in the city, before the next dawn, the curbsides will don a coat of gray slush. Cars will undoubtedly get stuck and folks will have to cancel planned activities. It is that way with beauty: here today and gone tomorrow.
I have been interested in a few articles in the newspapers this past week. All of them acknowledge the reality of our cultural bent toward seeing beauty only in things and people that are young ‘ the new snow, so to speak.
One article, in particular, caught my eye. It was written by Bonnie Miller Rubin for The Chicago Tribune.
‘Those over 55 are among the hardest-hit by unemployment,’ she writes. ‘While most older job-seekers know the importance of keeping their skills current, some are applying that same advice to their faces. From orthodontics to eyelifts ‘ and everything in between ‘ they are turning to such enhancements to gain an edge in the workplace.’
A 65-year-old man seeking a job had an eyelift. An unemployed woman got braces on her teeth at age 61. According to a plastic surgeon, ‘These are the kinds of people who are having such procedures done today.’ Why should looking younger give one an edge in the job market? Because ‘attractive’ is equated with no wrinkles, lots of non-gray hair and certainly no puffiness around the eyes.
Maybe it is because I am the possessor of all of the above ‘forbidden’ traits that I find the desire for eternal youth a less than positive force in creating a rich, peaceful and sustainable society. ‘Aging’ and ‘bad’ are not synonymous terms for me. I think there is value in the marks that time has etched on things and people. Yes, clean, fresh, white snow is beautiful, but do you want to live with it covering up real life all the time? Isn’t the melting of snow that creates rivers and nourishes life essential, too?
I think a lot that is necessary and important can be lost in erasing age’s tell-tale signs on faces, places, ideas, programs and policies. I want institutional memory entering my days as I go about making decisions, taking actions and planning for the future. I don’t want to miss elements of eternal value in a cover-up by short-term false goals. Don’t fool me with a flawless smile! I’ll wear my wrinkles as a sign that I have met the snow and the rain, the sun and the droughts and have come out a wiser and more caring person than I was at age 18.
I am going to enjoy the fresh snow and the beauty it brings, but I am not going to overlook the value in the melting run-off either. So, all you white-haired comrades out there, don’t let anyone stretch, pinch or dye you into unrecognizable form. You are beautiful, and we need the uniqueness you bring to life.

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