Are Those Wrinkles or Character Lines?

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

               As I write these words my OLDest brother is celebrating another birthday.  Being the firstborn of the bunch, he pioneered the way for his younger brothers.  He was the first to go to school, the first to graduate high school, the first to get a driver’s license, the first to attend college, the first to marry, the first to give mom and dad grandkids – –  but he never let all of that go to his head.  Then again, he did tell me one time that he had a headache the size of Mount Rushmore.

                Other than the over-the-hill e-card he will receive today, I plan to withhold the old man jokes and comments, knowing that my birthday will come around later in the year.  He does not always play by the rules of reaping and sowing, but hopefully he will remember this leniency when it comes his turn to do the happy birthday wishing.

                Someone told me recently that a good thing about being old is that one can hide his own Easter eggs because ten minutes later he will not remember where he put them.  Some of us, however, may not remember after ten minutes that we were planning to hunt Easter eggs at all!

                One of the funnier lines from years ago came from a man who said his mother’s doctor told her that, at her age, she should walk two or three miles every day.  He said, “That was a month ago, and last night she called from Cartersville.”

                My 12-string guitar is a 1968 model Fender Villager.  It was three years old when I bought it from my older brother.  Several years later I purchased an Ovation 12-string.  So a couple of years ago I was growing less and less satisfied with how the Fender sounded, and decided to sell it and replace it with a 6-string guitar (did I really need two 12-string guitars?).

                When I took it to a music store for an appraisal, the store owner examined it, played it, and then asked me why I wanted to sell it.  He suggested that we send it to one of his guitar guys for some tune up work, though he would love to buy it from me if I decided to sell it.  When it came back from repair, it sounded like my Fender of old!  I fell in love with it again.

                One of my concerns was that it had several surface cracks on both front and back of the body.  The store owner examined them closely, and then defined them to me as “character lines.”  They speak of experience and demonstrate character, making it even more special, he said.  I sold my Ovation and continue today playing the ol’ Fender Villager.

                What my music man said made a sensible impression on me.  When you look at your parents or grandparents, or in the mirror at yourself as you age, do not see wrinkles, but character lines.  Wisdom comes from character, not obtained from textbooks or years of existence, but from life experience; the joys and heartaches of one’s life story.

                I reflect on my childhood and the many good and funny memories I have with my brothers; we experienced a lot of life together.  Yes, we had our scuffles and arguments and pranks and such; but I learned a lot from my brothers.  So today I am thankful for a brother who will add another character line to his forehead, and I am not envious at all that he is the first of us to retire!  

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