Our younger son was needing a new passport and asked for my passport number as required in the passport application form in order to support his application. What a surprise I got! Due to the way my permit to stay indefinitely in this country was set up, I actually carry more than one passport whenever I need to travel outside the UK so that I can re-enter the country without difficulty. As a result, I have more than one photo to look at between my passports.
I have not travelled out of the UK at all over the past six years. The recession and increasing expenses have put paid to such luxury. When I looked at my latest passport, I noticed that none of the pages had been stamped. I then turned to the page with my photo on it and compared this photo with another from an earlier passport. After that, I peered into the mirror and took a good look at myself. Wow! How time has flown by! Where once the flesh was taut and face was fresh, now there was evidence of sagginess around the lower cheeks and mouth, coupled with lines of weariness that made my eyes look less than twinkly. The odd thing though is that as one birthday follows another, I never feel like I am ageing just because I have reached the day of my birth anniversary.
Over the past years, I have taken fewer and fewer photos, and have had hardly any photos taken of myself at all. Perhaps it has been just as well. Most people say I look young for my age, but when I saw the photos of what I looked like then and now, I suddenly realised what the passage of time has really meant in terms of my visage. And not just my face, but my body too. One tires more easily and quickly and discovers aches and pains where once none existed.
However, there are at least two wonderful things about growing older: one becomes more self-confident and less concerned about impressing those around one; and one matures and becomes wiser and more concerned about what is truly important in one’s life rather than the frivolities of this world. What else? Hopefully one grows into a better, more thoughtful, and more caring person.
Ah . . . but for the days of yore! Sometimes, when one looks back at the past, it is not just a concern with one’s looks, but also those wonderful places, moments, and people that went into building one up and crafting what one has become. When I looked at those passport photos, I thought not simply of the passage of time but also of what had been or used to be. There are so many things that I miss now or wish are still – but they cannot be because they are past, never to return. These episodes invariably recall a childhood that was rich with experiences: never dull although not always happy.
Such are my musings today. Such are my thoughts simply because I have looked at and compared past photos of myself with what I look like now. Isn’t it a wonder how the mind turns simply because of two tiny unassuming photos?
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