Paper Clips: August 2022

by Elaine Corrington
August 2022

Do We Still Know Who We Are?

It is hard for this native Californian to imagine that we change in ways we don’t plan on, through seasons, years, aging, learning lessons and failing to learn them.

Summer temperatures and activities cause more body and hair color changes (both natural and unnatural), and as the result, you can clearly see yourself reflected in a mirror or pool of water. You are driven to choose colors and designs to wear that complement this seasonally affected “new you” and with face make-up making eye or skin changes more dramatic it can even affect your friends, activities, health choices, curiosity (who do they think I AM, anyway??? I’ll show them).

If the response seems positive, you keep on going. If it seems bad, you want to leap forward or backward into the subtle or worse changes you might make to feel right, or at least better. It’s a little difficult if you live in an area where changes in seasons don’t propel you into only one way of looking and being. The Hurleyville Sentinel reader spends time in a place that can demand tossing and moving freely with fewer cover-ups and clothes (don’t forget your sandals!) in the summer, but is able to hide more unwanted body changes in the heavy clothes of winter, when you don’t want to get out and move all day… and cake is on sale, and cookies are a quick bake and you can eat them so fast nobody will know it, and ice cream still tastes great, and…oh, shoot.

Tomorrow may start a three-day hot streak where you have to take away some of the cover-ups, and the make-up you so artfully applied wants to slide down from the spots you so artistically highlighted and pool in areas never before observed in your skin.
One would think that autumn and spring would become the reasonable seasons to show who we are, but this year has been one of the most difficult in memory because of the many short changes in weather patterns.

And there is the never-to-be-forgotten two-year Pandemic, which forced us to think short and long term about the health repercussions of what we put on– and in– our bodies, what is visible, what we have to cover, and when.

We can’t make poor choices with those ideas, because the consequences are too severe. Why disguise ourselves when only the back of our masks, clothes, gloves, scarves see what gorgeous features we have added that are the only things positioned to see them? And the breath and movement inside those covers push make-up all around, and nobody would ever consider that the time and money spent on it was a good investment toward the future.

Plastic surgery? HAH no. Hair cut? HAH no. Fancy? Nope. You just look like you never got to finish.

After two years of this, and no clear vision of things changing quickly, we find that not only are we not who we want people to see when they look at us, we don’t recognize people any more, and we hate that. Even voice communication sounds different because of masks and social distancing. If a mask comes off and we can see a face, it is far more different than we expected. We also realize the huge communication gap from not adding facial expressions to our conversational interpretations.

Who is that person across the street with the less brilliant hair and make-up and wrinkles you think you never saw before?
Better to look at moving cellphone images that are held a distance away from the faces of the speakers. Who knew that all of these changes would make it harder to hear people talking, and that consonants disappeared more than vowels in the words that are heard?
Does all that we know of each other rely on these visions of our revised personal impressions? NO, NO, NO, Nooooo.

Our choices of who we really are, and what we do, what our family does, and what we and our community gains results more from our unhidden presence and deciding how we all integrate with and value each other. The small as well as the large acts of kindness can stay much longer and offer more health, humor, love, pride and joy than those faces and voices that have been taken away. Pick it up!
How can we start this right now?