#AtoZChallenge: R is for Resilience

photo credit: First Order Stormtrooper Doodle via photopin (license)

There’s a well-worn path on my face.

RThere are many. They remind me of the course my grandma’s black Labrador retriever wore down in the grass after dozens of high-speed chases along the fence, barking his ferocious warning to cars as they whizzed past on a lazy rural Colorado highway.

Continual repetitions grooved mi abuela’s yard. That’s happened on my face, too.

They’re set where there’s heaviest traffic – on my forehead, beside my eyes, bracketing my mouth. In 44 years, a baby face becomes an elementary school face. Chubby cheeks give way, and a traffic jam of baby and permanent teeth stack up, awaiting braces.

That kid face gives over to teen face, with an entirely fresh set of issues.

I watch fathers at baseball games tote kids no bigger than a sack of fertilizer. A cacophony of kid noises cascades from baby faces, their parents themselves babyish by comparison to me. I see moms walking children to kindergarten, laugh lines still far off in their future.

Smile lines (or frown lines) say a lot about us, says Kim of Protean Mom. As she often does, Kim got me thinking.

So, my face.

My forehead

foreheadAs a kid, I heard an interview with actor Burt Reynolds. He attacked his own forehead lines. “You could plant rows of corn in mine!” he said, and even at that young age, I figured his face to be one lots of guys wouldn’t mind the problem of having. I have those horizontal lines, but faded.

I trace my fingers up and down the vertical lines, which begin just between my eyebrows, on my face.

They run parallel, forged first no doubt from concentration during math classes that devoured me. They became deeper as deadlines approached, as thoughts percolated, as theories took shape.

They appear when pain teeters on unbearable, when fleeting peace escapes once again.

They also appear as I contemplate the words and responses and thoughts that become the words and responses tomorrow. There’s joy in that. The lines run deep, unfixable. They remind me of pain and thought and the necessity of each in life.

My eyes

eyesCrow’s feet, they call them.

They sneak up on you. Years without sunglasses from anywhere but Dollar Tree takes a toll. I saw my crow’s feet starkly in a photo I wonder might have long been deleted. The eye wrinkles leaped off the screen when I saw it, eliciting a thought that I look more like my father than I imagined.

Snapped in a moment of bliss as we fed ducks, the joy was instant, I remember.

They’re signs of a life, though rocky and lost at times, lived in joy. That despite periods of sorrow and days of loss, each day can deliver a chance to find a breath of joy, an impulsive smile that doesn’t give a damn about wrinkles.

Laugh lines

laughThey’re not obvious. Not just because I sport tonight a four-day stubble. They emerge sheepishly, butting against a dimple on one side, adrift on flesh that I hope stands resilient to the markers elsewhere on my face, not from lack of reasons to laugh or smile.

Just the slightest of things, that *one* thing I ask The Maker for when the road turns treacherous.

Just give me one thing. Just one. I’ll turn it into a revolution.

I rub the forlorn face I photographed for this blog. Today it saw a crystal-clear blue Carolina sky, exceptional company at breakfast, and a whim drive from Greensboro, N.C., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to see Grace win her first club championship.

Against the grain of stubble, I silently vow to unearth those spots in the day that challenge the very resilience of my face. I promise to immerse myself in those moments that bunch my eyes and relax my brow and incite smiles to widen and foster healing from inside.

Really. It’s not just a line.




  1. Yup, starting to see some faint lines here and there myself, but like trying to remind myself of all I have lived through so far that has gotten me here, as well now.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The girls couldn’t get over how “old” Han Solo looked. I told them, if I look “old” like that, I’ll have done something right along the way.

  2. Nikki says:

    We all wear our experience in our own way. For me, it’s crows feet at the corners of my eyes, laugh lines because I force smiles even on darkest days, and a tiny set of furrows where I crinkle my nose (let’s blame those on my inner 4 yr old, shall we?). Add in the slightly lighter streaks in the blonde at my temples, courtesy of my sons, and that’s MY version.
    Congrats on the club win, and on your determination to search out the sunshine rather than the rain.
    Your quote: “Just give me one thing. Just one. I’ll turn it into a revolution.”
    You already have it. And you are. It’s one of the things I admire most about you. On days you want to give in, you don’t.
    Huge hugs and hoping Monday plays nice.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I like the comments on this post better than the post! I like your perspective, Nikki. It’s a counterbalance to a photo I saw posted somewhere recently, of the buttons in an elevator.

      You could read the one for “open door”, but the one to close the doors was worn out from overuse. That’s kind of a sad commentary.

      I had to be there for my girl’s moment. I hope my team will understand. I’ll see them tonight.

      I hope I see the vision you have for my revolution. Reading that part of your comment brought this song to mind, and I’m listening to it right now:

      1. Nikki says:

        Excellent, excellent song. I swear I hear a soundtrack in my head as I wander through my days. Glad you did too 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        For sure – I’ve always wanted to put a playlist together of my essential soundtrack songs.

  3. Eric says:

    Ahhh… If those lines could talk we’d hear some amazing stories. I have a few sunspots to help accentuate the lines. You know, from years as an invincible adolescent who was too cool for sunscreen.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Like the grooves in vinyl, my friend. I try never to take to the sideline without a hat. I remind myself of those old whales you see in documentaries with all the barnacles on them.

      It’s kind of a badge of honor for making it this far.

  4. rachel says:

    beautiful. smiles in a parentheses.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I like that concept, Rachel.

  5. cricketmuse says:

    Dimples, considered so cute, become divots in time. But then, what would maps be without their lines? How would we follow the journey without them?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Dimples can open doors, but can’t keep them open, Cricket. Without lines, we’re lost. Sometimes, we’re lost anyway!

  6. Ah, life. There is something about how a face, whether it is considered pretty or ugly, old or young, wrinkled or smooth, just lights up when someone authentically smiles or laughs. As a photography bug, I finally figured out why some smiles in photos seemed fake to me. It’s in the eyes. When someone is truly happy, the eyes show it. When I meet someone these days, after getting a peek into their heart, I don’t even see any lines or gray hair they might sport (unless their heart is dark). Beautiful post!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Life is right, Sue. Smiles are the universal language, too. I love that observation about authenticity in smiles and laughs, and it makes perfect sense.

      So glad you liked this post. I can’t wait to share your guest post here. I’ll email you the new date.

  7. doreeweller says:

    Interesting thoughts on wrinkles. I’d never heard the line about planting the row of corn, but it made me laugh.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Doree – the rows of corn on one’s head predated the idea of corn rows, I think. Glad you got a laugh out of it! Look forward to getting back to your blog.

  8. amommasview says:

    When I was about 29 I was told during a facial that I should really really REALLY start doing something about my crow’s feet. She kept going and going about this product and that product and so on. When I was done she asked me if I was happy and I told her that I would never return. She asked me why and I told her that she obviously had no clue about happiness. She gave me a puzzled look and I explained to her that the crow’s feet are a sign for a happy life as they show how often you smile. I told her that I will never ever try to get rid of them. And I told her that I hope for her that she will find out one day, that smiles are much more important than beauty products and that a face should always tell a history…

    I’m pretty sure she didn’t get it. But hey, her loss, right?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Holy smokes. The comments on this post … and why do they call them crow’s feet? Maybe if they were called “sparrow feet” or “chickadee feet”, there wouldn’t be this air of doom and gloom with it.

      You should write a post about that day.

      1. amommasview says:

        You should! Or a six word challenge? I call them my happy smile lines…

  9. ksbeth says:

    they are the roadmap of our lives )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      … or a tributary system!

  10. Kisma says:

    I earned my laugh lines and love them! Wrinkles are our personal journeys of defeat and major accomplishments, joys and sorrows! They represent life and all its given and taken.

    Awesome story Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes Tiff! And I haven’t even gotten into my gray hair. That’s a post for another day.

  11. Rorybore says:

    I don’t know how or why I got so lucky, but I turned 45 this weekend, and so far so good. No lines aside from maybe the beginning of those laugh lines. Which I am totally okay with. I am never outside without sunscreen or sunglasses, so I guess there’s a lot to be said for that. Other than that – a big thanks to my mom for passing on some great genetics!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You have good mojo, Rore. It’s that good Canadian living. Laugh lines happen to good people.

      I don’t coach with sunglasses, because I want the kids to be able to see my eyes. That’s important.

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