The ‘beauty’ of holding two thoughts at once
I raced home from meeting a friend, logged on to YouTube and smiled at the screen in front of me. Listening intently to the instructions I used my fingers to ensure the corners of my mouth were symmetrical, then I stuck my tongue out and slowly moved it from side to side. I also did some other things with my face that I can’t even describe to you for fear you will need to rinse your imagination with bleach.
When I had finished contorting my face (it’s called face yoga) I started searching Google to see if I was able to buy Tretionin (retinol) without a prescription.
You can probably deduce by now that the women I met for coffee both had amazing skin. One was a face yoga practitioner and the other had used Tretinoin for a skin issue and ended up with no skin issue and the clearest skin I have ever seen. I was not so much jealous as… okay that’s not true, I was very, very jealous.
The thing is that when I am not worrying about war and famine, pandemics. climate change and the end of the world I’m really worried about my face.
I’ve been scared of the big things forever. I was that kid who was scared of the dark, who didn’t like being alone. I was the child who jumped at loud noises and hid in big crowds. I was a really young doomsday prepper and I didn’t even grow up in a cult. I was about nine when I first thought that the world was going to end in my lifetime. It wasn’t a specific event or thought that triggered it, I just knew with a certainty that I wouldn’t grow up to be an adult. So I was wrong. Just that once.
When I think of nine year old me I can picture her clearly. And not just the fear filled version of me, but the freckled face one.
I wasn’t born with freckles but they developed as soon as the sun first saw my face. Or maybe they developed around the same time as my fear. All I know is I have been trying to get rid of them (and the fear) for most of my adult life.
There was no such thing as suntan lotion when I was a kid which might give you an insight into how old I am, also into what impact the sun had on my face. But what I lacked in suntan lotion as I kid I have made up for in product and treatments as an adult. I have tried laser and photodynamic light therapy, chemical peels, snake oil* and every lotion and potion that advertised its miracles at a vulnerable me.
Which is of course why my interest was piqued by the retinol and the face yoga.
The part of me that raced home to start a daily face yoga practice and plans to beg the doctor for a retinol prescription is horrified at myself. It clashes strongly with the part of me that condemns people for being superficial and vain and not caring about the important stuff.
How can I be so caught up in looking ‘fresh faced’ when all around us people are suffering and dying? Why does my complexion matter when the earth is burning? Some people don’t even have access to water to wet their faces and I want prescription medication? I sound like a truly terrible person.**
But one thing I have learned in my life of trying to quell the fear is that you can hold two, or even ten, thoughts at once. You can be a good person trying to look after other people and the environment and still look after yourself.
I may not be able to get rid of the fear, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of the sun damage but I have discovered that at least I am very tenacious. And that’s got to count for something.
*it wasn’t actual snake oil but I can’t promise I wouldn’t try it if to offered a miracle.
** I also sound like I am trying to write Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil