Monday, March 14, 2011

Confessions of a Habit Dirtier than Charlie Sheen's

I've spent a lot of time with a certain baby lately, a lot of quiet time that leaves me pondering. The overwhelming impression of a baby is sweetness, but there's something deeper than just that sweetness. We feel their sweetness because of a certain purity and innocence of the human state. We automatically compare ourselves to their delicate perfection, their good-hearted smiles, and their absolute trust. It is as if by holding a baby we hold a mirror up to the state of our souls. Holding that sweetness leaves me happy, as though leaving me with a bundle of hope.

I hold Evie Kay pondering the smoothness of her skin, something so superficial, and it leads me to compare her to myself. She has porcelain baby skin and I have twenty-nine year old freckled skin that's just beginning to show little wrinkles. Something so superficial has me pondering something deeper.

I have a confession. I have a horrible little habit. I pick my cuticles. Violently. At least I stopped biting my nails years ago, but damned if those little ragged edges drive me to insanity. On the surface it seems to be just a habit, but truth is it is something much deeper. It is my deep need to make every thing perfect manifested on my poor fingers. I see one of those tiny cuticles starting to crack or peel and something comes over me. I go crazy. I pull at the skin and leave the pink new skin exposed, sometimes to the point I draw blood. Now, isn't that ironic? Out of some crazy need to remove any imperfection I make it even more imperfect. Oh, I've tried to kick the habit, but truth is I'm like Charlie Sheen. I don't give a &(#$.

But, this morning holding sweet Evelyn with her perfect hands, perfect fingers, and perfect cuticles I realized our cuticles are like our souls. She was born with these perfectly formed fingernails with soft, supple cuticles. There's no need to try to make her more perfect, because she is perfect.

Then there's me and my fingernails. They're shaped funny and the cuticles are dry or cracked, slightly damaged just like my soul.

She's lived just over a month, she's not had time to do anything wrong or time to bite her cuticles raw. Me on the other hand, I've had nearly twenty-nine years to make plenty of mistakes and rip those poor nails off my slightly wrinkled and freckled hands.

The only wrinkles on Evie's hands are the ones she needs to bend those adorable fingers. So, as I ponder the state of our souls I realize one day even her hands will wrinkle. One day even she'll have regrets.

As a child I would trace the veins, or "highways," on my Grandma's hands during church. My mom is starting to get highways now; it's only fitting since now she's a grandma now. I'm sure my Grandma marveled at my smooth and perfect little hands so many years ago.

Now Grandma is gone.

But here we are, with our imperfections and our perfections, growing up and growing older. Wednesday I'll celebrate my twenty-ninth birthday. I was a little perturbed by twenty-six through twenty-eight, but all of a sudden I'm at peace with being in the upper twenties. Being this close to thirty all of a sudden isn't that scary with the little reassurance of life we call Evie.

Maybe I'll even stop ripping bits of skin off myself and leave those perfect imperfections.

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