April 10, 2013

Aging, Imperfections, and the Beauty Within

Monday evening, after a long day of chores around the house, digging up a garden, framing said garden, hauling dirt and mulch, spreading fertilizer, and other assorted tasks, Missus JB and I grabbed a couple cold beers, set up the lawn chairs under the shade of the porch, and just sat back to talk.

She's been dealing with some depression most of her life, and the bout with meningitis last summer didn't help much.  The doctors finally have her on a mix of pills that helps with the depression and the headaches she suffered for so long, and she's been going to a counselor to learn new skills to cope with feelings of anxiety, inferiority, and so forth.

One of the things she asked me is "How do you not give a damn about what other people think?  How do you ignore them when they tell you you're not perfect enough?"

I don't know if it's true that I don't give a damn what others think.  The opinions and input of my friends and family is important to me, and I cherish that more than any bauble or trinket or dollar I have.  Rather, I think the key, for me anyway, is that I have few true friends, and I don't give a damn what people other than my friends think.

If a person in another department at the office tells me they don't like XYZ about me, I really don't see that as something about which I need to get worked up.  It really doesn't matter.  My life continues.  If a stranger or friend of a friend of a friend has negative views of me because I like beef and guns and beer and football, I don't give a damn.

This line of thinking brought me to mention that I have but one regret in my life.  In my *cough* years on this planet, I've only done one thing that I truly regret.  Everything else has either taught me a lesson or has been an integral part of bringing me to where I am today.  I am here -- with my wife and daughters, my friends a phone call or plane ride away, my dogs loving and loyal and sleeping on the sofa -- because of the choices I've made and actions I've taken, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

That reminded me of a line from the movie "The Guardian" with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kucher.  It's a pretty cheesy flick, and you kinda know how it's going to end before the opening credits finish, but in that movie is a great line that sums up this conversation perfectly.  In the scene, Costner's character is talking with a bartender friend of his, talking about getting old, and she says

Hell, I've always been old Ben. Ya' know what though, I don't mind. I mean if my muscles ache, it's because I've used 'em. It's hard for me to walk up them steps now, its 'cuz I walked up 'em every night to lay next to a man who loved me. I got a few wrinkles here and there, but I've layed under thousands of skies with sunny days. I look and feel this way, well cuz I drank and I smoked. I lived and I loved, danced, sang, sweat and screwed my way thorough a pretty damn good life if you ask me. Getting old ain't bad Ben. Getting old, that's earned.
I look at myself, or my wife, and I see the beauty that comes from a life well lived.  Am I perfect?  Nope.  Not by a stretch.  Is Missus JB?  Again, nope.

But is she beautiful?  I believe so... I see the beauty that comes from having the strength to get away from an abusive husband and strike out on her own with two children.  I see the beauty of a woman who started with nothing but $50 in her pocket and two weeks to payday and now has financial stability.  I see a woman who, despite living in a dead-ass town with narrow minded people all around, decided she wanted to try sushi.  I see a woman who has a "less-than-ideal" figure because she's too busy working and providing for her children to go to the gym 3 hours a day.

I see a woman who isn't afraid to sleep in a tent, travel to a new country, drink a cold beer at 11 am, shoot a gun, wear a teal cocktail dress and heels, swat a spider, bottle feed a cat, face off with a Rottweiler, cry during a sad movie, or any of a myriad of other things.  I see a woman of beauty, not in spite of her physical flaws, but because of them.

And that was cause for a tear and a fresh round of beers and a softly whispered "Thanks, JB, for being my husband."

Any time, babe.  

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