Old Tribesmen

I often wince and look away from a very old face on the street or on a page, look away, get away. Is it fear that makes me avert my eyes? I don’t know.

But when I choose to look back, it’s amazing what I find. All that fear and loathing of old age I’ve carried with me since youth and strikes like lightning at the thought of being so old myself can also be quieted long enough to allow me to take in the eyes and soul that lives in the crags and runnels of aged faces.

A face frightful at first glance slowly loses its terror when I can quiet my fears long enough to simply gaze into the grizzled, worn face, the fire that still burns in his eyes, see the beauty in the patterns of wear, the understated strength, the still endurance of a life long lived. And forgetting the cultural differences among old faces I’ve lost myself in is a study for anthropologists, there is also for me so evidently the kindred human spirit that inhabits us all, wherever we come from.

The Cowboy, photo Phil Morgan
Elder; photo Dorthe Juri Lange
Cowboy; photographer unknown
Elder; photographer unknown
Willie Nelson; photo Pari Dukovic