I’ve been looking at multi-generational family photos recently and there’s something about them that has me a bit worried. It stands out so clearly that I couldn’t help but notice – the older generation is not smiling. I am already aware that getting older has its down side but could it be that old age is even worse than I had imagined?
There could be other explanations, and I’m considering them all. Perhaps, even though they appear to be looking at the camera and are surrounded by family members who are posing, they don’t know their picture is being taken? No one said “Say cheese”? Or perhaps they think they look scary when they smile, or maybe those muscles are tired and just don’t function anymore? They are all smiled out? Could it be that just being there for the photo requires so much of them that they don’t have energy left to pretend that it’s fun?
When I go back to the very, very old pictures I can totally understand the grim expressions. After all, they had to stand outside, in a lot of dark, heavy clothing, probably for a very long time to get that picture. Notice that no one has thousands of those pictures in their family albums. But we are in the digital age and have thousands of pics on our phones! We can delete them with a touch of the finger. If there’s a somber, semi-glaring face in there it must mean something.
And that is what worries me. Someday there might be a lot of pictures of old aunt/grandma/relative/friend Shirley out there and I would like to either be smiling or making a funny face in all of them. I want to know that it’s possible, no matter how tired I am, how much I hurt or how old I feel, to hide it from the “youngers”. They’ll find out soon enough how much fun it is. I’m actually practicing my smile variations, hoping that one of them will become so habitual that it will be there on my face anytime there is a camera around. It’s taking conscious effort but I’m just sayin’, I think it’s worth doing.