As I washed my hands today, I glanced up, saw my reflection in the mirror.  There, gleaming brightly, was a silver strand.

Although it’s not my first gray hair, it’s the first one I’ve left untouched.  In the past, whenever I’ve spied that symbol of faded youth, I’ve yanked the strand instantly.  Every six months or so, because my gray hairs are so scattershot, I’ve had the whole lot of them highlighted out of existence.

I’ll admit, in general I’ve been blessed with good genes.  People say, and I have to agree, that I look fairly young for my age.  And one would think that I, as a newly-minted single, would be extremely concerned about maintaining an appealingly youthful appearance.

Sometimes, though, it surprises even me how little I’m beginning to care about my looks.

I’ll confess to many lapses – in kindness, in judgment, in character – but overall, I’m becoming far more drawn to searching for my inner beauty.  I prefer tending to my spirtual essence over enslaving myself to outer comeliness.  I’ve watched others fight against aging, overly invested in their external appearances while allowing their insides to fester, growing increasingly putrid and hideous.  Such a focus feels shallow, misguided and ultimately, foolish.

Yes, I’ve watched and learned.

What I’ve learned, in particular, is that time and gravity eventually take their toll, no matter how valiant the fight.  At some point – usually sooner rather than later – swimming against the tide becomes ridiculous.

But inner radiance only grows brighter with age and wisdom.  It is a beauty that transcends the physical body, lighting up one’s countenance through the eyes, the expression, the soul.

I’m not entirely vanity-free.  Of course, I’d love to age magnificently, but I want to do it through yoga, exercising, eating (moderately) well, learning, loving, playing, living life in full color.  And I’m certainly not planning to trade in my shoulder-baring dresses or long locks to wear a poodle cut and frumpy housecoats any time soon.  Makeup and razors are still part of my morning routine (though I’m on the fence about highlights).

But you will never find me under the surgeon’s knife or visiting the dermatologist for regular Botox.  I’d much rather laugh merrily or love lustily to encourage naturally happy lines and wrinkles.  You won’t find me strapped in push-up bras or horribly constricting slimming undergarments, forcing my body to be something it’s not.  I’m a braless, sundress, flip flop, let-it-all-hang-out kind of girl.  I’ll always remain that girl, simple and plain, even when I’m a much older old lady.

I’d rather use vanity money, if I had it, to whisk my family away on an extravagant vacation.  Or maybe I’d indulge in a long, soul-satisfying yoga retreat.  Or maybe…I’d share it with those less fortunate.

I want my spirit to shine brightly and well.  I long to make a difference, to matter in the world, to touch my soul and have my soul touch others’.  And that is the beauty I seek – steadfast, honest, true – because inner beauty is the one light that never fades, never dims, never dies.