I carefully placed the thin blade of the paring knife against the skin of a ripe and juicy peach. Round and round, I purposefully separated the outer skin from the peach leaving the slippery, orange-colored fruit exposed.
I sliced the peach in half, gently pulling one side away from the other. The pit hung tightly to the other side and only reluctantly let go when I forced it. It joined the pile of peelings. I cut each side into perfect slices.
As I peeled one peach after another, I couldn’t help but think of something I had heard frequently from my mother. “It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” The bowl full of beautiful peach slices seconded Mother’s motion.
I read a quote from an unknown source recently that caused me to think. “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” These are very powerful words to live by.
Never miss a local story.
Sometimes we get caught up in what we see on the outside when we look at ourselves and others. We judge people on the way they look, what size they are, where they live and what they possess. As I have aged, I have ever so slowly shifted in the way I view myself and the people around me.
Inside all of us, at our very core, is who we really are. As we grow up, we unwittingly morph into what makes us popular or allows us to fit in. It takes decades before we start to really get to know ourselves. In my 20s, what people thought was so important to me. I would be crushed if anyone said anything negative about me. During my 30s, I still cared but not as much.
During my 40s, I inched closer to finding out more about me. If something made me happy then I gravitated toward it. I started to care less about what people thought and more about who I am. I’m now in my 50s and am realizing how short life is and how important it is to enjoy each and every day. I care less about my outward appearance and listen more to my inside core.
Instead of eating and exercising to be thin on the outside, I try to make better choices to be healthy on the inside. Age nudges vanity away and we learn more about what’s really important. One of the things that has really surprised me about aging is that while things on my body shift, wrinkles pop up in all kinds of places and my hair seems to get a little thinner each day, on the inside, I’m still the same.
Without even realizing it, we become more and more who we really are. When I was younger, I thought my parents and grandparents lost who they were as the aged but now I’m beginning to realize they didn’t lose anything. They were the same on the inside while they adapted to living in different skin.
I was recently talking about all of this with some of my friends. Age shows us what’s important and gives us wisdom in how we react to others. Our skin becomes thicker and we don’t allow ourselves to get hurt by the words and actions of people. In other words, we learn to be happy with who we are.
Just like the peach, growing older helps us to peel away the layers that aren’t necessary so we can find the things that are. I’m beginning to believe that it takes a lifetime to fully understand why we are here. If only we knew all of this when we were growing up!
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured. Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to 3514 Ridge Avenue, Macon, GA 31204; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.