We wake up and put our face on. We fix our expression to fit the audience.
We select the appropriate outfit. We talk the correct language.
We laugh at the right times. We show some emotion, but not too much.
We meet expectations. We claim to have the answers.
We eat the proper food; of course, gluten is my enemy, too.
We strike the pose for the photo. We choose the suitable emojis.
We claim busy, because, gasp, how weird we would be to not be busy.
We complain just enough, share joy just enough.
We worship and praise … all is well.
Then, pause, we look a little closer. At the choice clothes, the fixed face, the right words.
We notice a few creases.
We see some parts that have been folded away.
The snapshot turns into a movie reel … a journey of highs and lows.
Moving inside that perfect picture is the life of war.
the friend’s arm tucked reassuringly around the waist of his companion; her head bowed and body leaning heavy
the thick makeup masking the bruise; but he’ll be different next time.
the blush of accomplishment; he doesn’t want to seem arrogant
the clasped hands and grateful expressions; we didn’t know if she would ever graduate
the shocked gasp at the confession; what happened to ‘I do’
the longing look at the children running by; her heart’s desire unrealized
the hunched shoulders, slumped body in the office chair; the doctor’s report must be wrong
the utter amazement upon hearing the first cries of life; are we really blessed with this miracle
the faraway look, the shaky voice during the shared memory; the disease took her far too early
the forgiving, grace-filled words; let’s move on together
the ducked head, the darting eyes as she pushes the food around the plate; just a few more pounds and then she’ll eat again
the beads of sweat popping out above his brow, the tight grip of his hand on the bottle; tomorrow he’ll stop
the raised glasses, the shout of celebration; the hard work paid off
the heavy sigh echoing in the empty house; she thought he was “the one”
the contented smile, squeezed eyes, arms intertwined; we love you, mommy
the downcast, shameful eyes as the truth is whispered; divorce, job loss, depression… the list of imperfections feels endless
the head thrown back, the uncontrollable peels of laughter; remember when we …
the look of sincere relief; you hurt, love, worry, hope, crave, regret, strive, too?
We slowly gaze up from what we originally thought was just a perfect picture, unfolded now, creases on full display.
The picture, with its scenes revealed, is no longer perfect by our standard definition.
But maybe by our human definition … our motion picture is exactly as it should be.
The collection of moments that make us who we are.
The perfect war of life.