Kim Kardashian and The Pilgrim Soul

If you think modern society is humming along just fine and we all need to hope aboard The Good Ship Future, then you probably haven’t seen this picture:

“That’s horrible!” you may be thinking, if you’re still sane. “Clearly the woman has been in a terrible accident.”

Nope: that’s a Kardashian, and she’s just had what’s called a Vampire Facial. It’s A Comin’ Thing! Here’s how Popular Science explains it:

A “blood facial” or “vampire facial” is a cosmetic procedure during which a doctor draws a couple vials of blood from your arm, centrifuges the blood to separate out the plasma and platelets from the red blood cells, and then adds the platelet-rich plasma back into your face. For extra absorption, the doctor pokes your face all over with a bunch of micro-needles before applying the plasma. Reminds me a little bit of making a Jell-O poke cake.

There’s no evidence at all that this gory procedure works.

Look, it took me a couple years to figure out what a “Kardashian” even was, and then someone explained it was a child of OJ Simpson’s lawyer. Now I’m just trying to figure out why I should care, and why their blank expressions gaze at me from supermarket magazine racks.

But, since she’s famous, and since at least 60 million Americans of voting age are stark, raving mad, Vampire Facials probably will become some kind of trend. Because FAME! SEX! YOUTH!

I remember hearing, ages ago, about someone (Rod Stewart? George Hamilton?) getting fetal lamb tissue injected into his face to keep him looking young, so quack youth treatments are hardly new.

But men and women shouldn’t look young forever. It’s just kind of creepy, and shows a fatal misunderstanding of the arc of life.

Look at this:I’m sure someone, at some point, suggested Tommy Lee Jones should get some work done. Smooth out those canyons, tuck in those bags.

First, as an actor, that face is his instrument, and every wrinkle conveys meaning. Second, that meaning was achieved through a long life. Age takes away our youthful beauty (if, indeed, we ever even had it), like the tooth fairy taking away a molar, and in its place we get, not a quarter, but wisdom, experience, perspective. I’d like to imagine that Tommy Lee looks in the mirror and sees a life lived and experienced earned, rather than something smooth and featureless as a baby’s butt.

Think only a man can get away with it? Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, and Jamie Lee Curtis have all, allegedly, skipped the knife and simply aged into their faces the way God intended.

And what is wrong with that? Remember the words of Yeats:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face

The pilgrim soul in you. A pilgrim is not the same at the end of a journey as at the beginning. If he is, he’s done something wrong. Pilgrimage changes us. It marks us.

Life marks us too. Wood enters the ocean as little more than a dying tree, and is plucked out, miles further and years later, a beautiful piece of art shaped by no human hand. When we try to use technology to strip away that effect of time and tide on ourselves, we don’t retain our youthful looks. We simply put on the mask of a child we no longer are.

I don’t want to be a child again. I’m getting older, as is my wife. We wrinkle and sag and creak. We also love and create and grow. We’re slowly being called home, our bodies bearing the years and the miles on their return trip to the earth from whence we come. Technology could give us back only a facsimile of youth, and a grotesque one at that. It cannot give us back the real thing.

We will never be young again, and that’s okay. Even young, we weren’t truly who would we should be, because we were born deformed by sin. None of us are perfect at 20 or 25, but we will be so at the end when, in┬áthe twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed: for this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. All else is just dust.