Last month when I was trying to come up with a thought for “A Moment in Time” for the P.C.’s annual holiday issue, I listened to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” song for inspiration.
The music video was filled with Olympic moments where people were affirmed that they were “more than they thought they could be.” Then I watched Kevin Costner’s eulogy at Whitney Houston’s funeral. This amazing singer was haunted by not being enough … not pretty enough, not a good enough singer. She would struggle with “did people really like her?” She didn’t want to disappoint those around her. She wanted to be perfect.
So, even though Whitney’s music and story did not seem to fit the message I wanted for the holiday edition, I thought it was an appropriate inspiration for this column to start 2021. This is the time for hopeful New Year’s resolutions.
On Jan. 1, I thought about losing weight, exercising more, finding time to meditate, eliminating sugar, gluten and dairy from my diet … but by the following week, those thoughts vanished from my consciousness.
Also, my mom used to say that your house will always be as clean throughout the year as it is on New Year’s Day. I used to try to clean everything because I wanted to have a perfect house. I realize that clean enough is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect!
Like Whitney Houston, I, too, have been haunted by perfection and not being good enough. It is hard to live in a society that values beauty of face and body and not being different.
For me personally, it is hard to grow old with those values surrounding me at every turn … in television, movies and magazines.
I live faced with those expectations every day as I look at myself in the mirror. The person that looks back at me now has more wrinkles, age spots, droopy eyelids and marionette lines extending from her mouth. My body has more lumps and bumps, my hair is grey (though I continue to dye it) and often falls out when I shampoo it. I am no longer young.
But one of my favorite children’s books is “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a story about a stuffed rabbit.
I especially love this passage:
“Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
I remember as my parents began to age, I didn’t love them less because they were no longer young.
I actually loved them more because as I matured, I realized how much they had given me, not just in material items, but in helping me become a better person.
In some ways, I am like the Velveteen Rabbit. I have lost my shape. I have less hair, and the hair I have has turned grey. I have grown older. But today, I am more real than I ever have been.
Where I once tried to hide what I felt, today I always try to say what is true for me with kindness and an open mind. And yet even though I often judge myself, I have to remember it is not how I look that matters as much as how I love and how much I am loved.
I have been so fortunate to have the husband I have and the children that may not have been born out of my body, but my heart. I also have so many wonderful family and friends who surround me with so much joy.
So in this new year, I am not making any resolutions. I am going to live my life with more kindness and gratitude. What I do want to say is that I wish all my readers health and peace until we can all get vaccinated. And I hope that all of you know that every word I write comes from my heart, and I hope it goes into yours.
Happy New Year everyone!
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”