It all started when I was in the USA and a seven year old little girl looked at my eyes and told me I had grandma wrinkles. I told her they were smile lines, not grandma wrinkles. She looked at me with determination and anger and shouted, “GRANDMA WRINKLES!!!” I smiled at her again to show her my lines and said calmly, “I see them as smile lines because I’m a happy person and I smile a lot.” She muttered, “Grandma wrinkles” and stomped off angrily. I thought how sad it was that the people in her life have gave her this perception. She is only seven and already thinking about appearances, it is such a sad world when children think like that.
After this, I was watching a TV program with my parents and on came this three minute commercial about cream for the neck and upper chest. It featured numerous female celebrities who had used this cream and said how young it made them look and how much they loved it. Funny enough, a few months earlier when I was in Cartagena, I looked in the mirror and thought my age was starting to show on my neck, I simply brushed off such a shallow thought, but slathered more sun cream on that area to prevent any more damage. When I was watching this advert, I started panicking a bit about my looks and my age and god forbid I should actually look my real age one day. I found my hand involuntarily touching my neck as if it was to blame for the fact that I am getting older. Then the advert started talking about all of these freebies they would throw in and I found myself anxious to hear the price. When they said it, it was actually a rather decent price and of course came with a guarantee so if I didn’t see results, I would get my money back. I was so close to writing down the website and then I stopped myself. Why would I do that? Many women these days seem to have lost the ability to age gracefully. My grandmothers did not mess with a thing and I’m not even sure used face cream, yet they were still beautiful women. I guess it depends on your definition of beauty.
Not to mention, when you start getting botox, fillers, implants here there and everywhere, shit goes wrong when you get older. Trust me, I’m sure one woman I saw who was in her 50’s would tell you that she regretted everything she ever had done. Her face and lips were totally deformed, her boobs were rock solid in a midst of aging skin and her skin was leathered from being in the sun with no protection. She was a kind person, but her outside was not so beautiful.
Now back to the present. I am absolutely loving my time in London. It’s great because I’m not working much and I have a bike which gives me freedom to travel around for free (speaking of which I got good old Sky back with all of his parts and the bike shop did indeed reimburse me for everything and gave me a better lock for a discount!) and explore this incredible city. When I am coming home from somewhere, I love to take new roads or old roads that are new to me because it’s been a couple of years. It’s amazing! I am truly truly observing and seeing this incredibly magic city. The spirits of London, of which there are many are constantly guiding me. They speak to me at every corner I turn, every alley way I look in. It’s incredible! They are showing me new perspectives and truly opening my eyes to a peaceful way of living. They are telling me that this is not the place for me right now, but I am here so I should soak in all of the lessons that are being offered to me.
I love the contrasts in London. Depending on the area, the buildings are different, the types of shops vary, the street life is different, the colours of people are different (but always with a mix of colours), the way people carry themselves is different. It’s really interesting to see. I’ve been spending a lot of time around Covent Garden and Marylebone in the last few days. There are a lot of shops, businesses and rich people around. I have been looking at the shops and the types of people that go into them. On the weekend Tommy Hilfiger near Harrods had such a huge crowd of people waiting for something that people were blocking the pavement and nearly pouring out into the streets. As I was rushing with excitement to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in over two years, I suddenly found this absurd. I shouldn’t judge I know, but that was my initial thought. It was probably some model or some new range of clothing that was coming. People were using their precious life going there because they think it would make them look better than me who has no designer clothes or even anything that is considered fashionable. They place so much importance on how they look and who they wear that perhaps they are missing out on what really is important.
I realised that I too, in my previous life fell victim to this marketing. I wanted to have the latest fashion (at high street prices!), have an iPhone, live in a “cool” part of London, travel to exotic places, have lots of shoes, jackets and money to go to shows, good restaurants and goodness knows what else. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t go to my high school reunion because I didn’t have children or a husband or that Doctorate that I went for. Really, none of that matters and it wasn’t until I gave everything up, including fake appearances, that I finally felt free, confident and sure.
As I cycle around the more affluent areas of London, I notice how they are so much about appearances. I notice how they look at me just a bit longer than they do everyone else because I have an old dirty bike, a red sailing jacket (which needs a good wash but I don’t have a spare while it’s drying!), worn black mittens and a red bobbly Christmas ski hat that my friend lent me (thanks Jennie, it’s been the most valuable object I’ve received since coming here!!). They are either judging me, in disgust of such a scrub in their area or maybe they are grateful to see someone different to all the rest.
I went to an induction to teach private yoga for a mobile styling company (Blow Ltd). The majority of the people there were hair, make up and nail artists who were very concerned about their appearance. I rocked up not in the dress code because I don’t have black trousers or shoes, not wearing any make except a splash of eyeliner and I hadn’t even blow dried my hair. Just as a side note, when I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, my hair looked just as good as two of the girls who clearly worked hard to get their hair that way. They were really nice women and I couldn’t help but wonder what we would do with all this free time if we weren’t so concerned about wearing masks.
One reason why I went travelling was because I realised that I was getting a bit ridiculous and needed to learn how to live without these small luxuries. I was working so hard to maintain an appearance, that I stopped living because I was too busy working to fulfil this empty desire. My travelling goal was accomplished. I lived on a small and strict budget so that I could travel for a long time and when I came back, I would be ready to start a new career path with little money. Well, I’m not ready to settle here, but I certainly don’t need any more than what I already have. Nor do I really need all of what I have. However, what I do have is more important than any object or appearance I could ever wish for. Peace and contentment. Buddha was right, you really do have to give up everything to find everything you are supposed to have.