Dorian Gray

Recently I phoned a long-distance friend and listened to her complain about the stranger in her bathroom mirror. What a coincidence! I’d seen a stranger in my mirror, too. My stranger was old with frown lines on her forehead, laugh lines at the corner of her eyes, and a deep worry line between her eyes. Our strangers were quite a bit alike, although mine was considerably shorter than hers.

“How did we get here?” she wondered.

I wondered that, too. And as so often happens, once I have something on my mind, other references to that subject pop up all around me.

I was searching for something to listen to while I raked leaves, and what should be ‘available now’ on the free library app Libby but The Picture of Dorian Gray. I hate to admit I’d never read it, but I knew the surface story of the man who gave his soul so his full-length portrait would grow old while he stayed as young and handsome as he was on the day the artist signed the painting.

There was so much to ponder while listening to Oscar Wilde’s philosophical and rhetorical novel. At some parts I chuckled, at others I scoffed, at still others I grimaced, and some set me to thinking. As I raked, I found myself backing up the audiobook and listening to a section again. When I came inside, I wrote down those parts as best I could remember. Living forms the soul, I jotted, and later I looked up the quote, “The life that would make his soul would mar his body.”

Pictures of our youth mock us, I’d written on a scrap of paper, and I know that’s so when I need a good laugh and look at a smoothed-faced young me and some of my various hairdos. That led me to ask Siri to play the heart-tugging song “Remember When” by Alan Jackson. Time stood still when we were young. Oh, so true. He sings of joys, hurts, learning, and life changes. During all that living, character lines find permanent homes on our faces and a scar or two are added.

As Siri is wont to do, she chose to follow that song with similar ones, and I heard George Jones sing, “With time my face has wrinkled, but my blue eyes still sparkle…” from “Same Ole Me.”

Am I the same ole me as when I was young? I think not. I think we all change every day as a result of our choices and actions.

Who said eyes are the window to our souls? Can they still sparkle with curiosity while time draws lines on our faces and our bodies sag and ache? I hope so. Sometimes I’ve noticed the stranger in my mirror has dull eyes. I can accept the lines, but not the dim uninterested eyes.

If we want to feel younger, Oscar Wilde opines, we should repeat our youthful follies since “experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.” Is it those mistakes that make those wrinkles on the stranger in my mirror? Why would I want to repeat them?

Life is full of mistakes and… what is the opposite of mistakes? Successes doesn’t seem like the right word. Every life is full of ups and downs, and we should accept them, learn from them, and move on. The late great Jimmie Jones was fond of saying take it easy, “Life’s a holiday.” But we all know that even on holidays, luggage gets lost. Just ask the stranger in the mirror.