I just peeked in the mirror and was astonished to see how far the wrinkles around my eyes have spread (I understand these are referred to as periorbital wrinkles. They can be “addressed” by any number of surgical procedures or chemical treatments, or simply by avoiding actually focusing on things much, but that hardly sounds reasonable).
This is a narcissistic age, and I’m not immune to thinking of my wrinkles as though they were a a contagion — not unlike the spread of an invasive bacteria through the alleys and warrens of a body’s circulatory system. There is a fatalistic inevitability to the way they spread and deepen like cracks in a windshield, or an ice-shelf peeling away from solid rock and sagging towards the ocean.
But I really prefer to think of my face like a hand-illustrated manuscript of the medieval period. The smooth vellum is just the raw material for the finished product: lettering done in the 13th century, the illustrations completed in the 14th, the color applied (sloppily, in places) in the 15th. Fine preparation for being stuffed in a closet for a few centuries and then sold on the black market for a ridiculous price 😉 It would be gratifying to view my wrinkles as a sign of wisdom, but I have only inconclusive empirical evidence of such a thing.
Or perhaps it is better compared to a block of stone being incremental chiseled into the increasing likeness of a human:
The blow of the hammer stings, but look how finely etched is the detail of my face!
The deep strike of the chisel aches, but look how deep you can see into the heart of this stone!