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You Look Mahvelous!

Phil Morris

“You Look, Mahvelous!!” That was the catchphrase comedian Billy Crystal used on SNL as his comedic send up of  Latin actor, Fernando Lamas. He said it with bravado, a wink, and a carefree attitude that made us laugh. Why? Because it said, “It doesn’t matter what you feel on the inside. What you look like is what’s  important.”

Whew! That’s all I have to do? Done and done. Many of us feel that way and live our lives through that prism. People say to me all the time, “You haven’t changed a bit! You look the same.” Of course I appreciate it and thank them but I also tell them, “You should see my inner child.” Which is true. I’ve been through a lot, as we all have. It is impossible for me not to have changed.

To be honest, I do work out quite a bit and spend a fair amount of time in the gym. I do it for quality of life, mainly. Sure, I’d like to look good and want to have a good physique, but it’s way more than that. It’s a “balancer” for my life. Working out and training are among the only things I can control. I can decide when to go, how much I do, and what results I want. Where else in life can you have that much control over your situation? So, I take advantage of that option. However, as I grow older and understand the bigger picture, I’m really going for “quality of life,” grounding. It’s more of a maintenance program, if you will.

That’s what it should be about… essentially. So many of us are there for the “body beautiful”, and that’s cool, but as we get older and older, we just can’t perform physically the way we did when we were younger. So, what’s it all for? Ego? To hook up with a hot guy or girl or whomever? Need to look a certain way for your job? Again, cool, but that’s short-sighted, in my opinion. It’s how we carry ourselves.

We all are shouldering some kind of baggage that has weighed on us. In my industry, the “look” was uber important when I started out. I was a pretty well-paid model for quite a while. What I looked like was, literally, my bread and butter. To a degree, it still is. As I look back on my career, I see the phases I’ve gone through from being a teenage actor through my 20’s, 30’s, 40’,s and now well into my 50’s.

I can’t look the same. I won’t look the same. So, why try? What we lack is the acceptance of our own personal changes. I have lacked that in my life at times. I have wanted to look as smooth and wrinkle-less as I was when I was in my 20’s… impossible, even with surgery. So, I accept me — blemishes and all. I look forward to the changes and honor them. We all hear the phrase, “The only thing that is constant is change.” If that’s true, why do we try and hold onto our youth and physical acuity, even when we are far from that?

Be who you are, now. Again, it’s all down to ego and what we want society to see us as, what we want to see ourselves as. We should want to see ourselves as the beings that have persevered and survived against it all. That takes experience along this journey. That experience is what we reveal in our physicality, on our faces. The lines and bags that I have on my face, I EARNED. Through hard work, love, stress, loss, challenge, joy, laughter and pain. It comes no other way.

I attended a weekend seminar with a guru who revealed to us that everyone who comes to see him wants a calm, sedate, peaceful life. Sounds good, right? But then he said, “Why is it, that when we read a book, go to a movie, watch a television show, a play, we want the most dramatic, funny, tragic, compelling, action-packed entertainment possible?” Why do we want that in our entertainment and want to will it away in our waking lives? You can’t. It isn’t possible. It’s a fool’s errand. It’s like trying to hold a stream in your hands. It will wash over and around you.

We sometimes resist accepting the reality of our lives, which contains many twists and turns. It is more than honorable to grow older, to experience life on its most demanding terms and come into understanding. It strengthens us, makes us more formidable human beings. We all know the phrase, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all…” We must turn that on to ourselves. Love yourself — all of you — and if you lose the momentary battle, you will win the war. Love will out.

If you don’t give in to the changes in your life and try to stay that person who hasn’t changed, you will be confronted with a false narrative that isn’t your reality. No matter what your mind tells you to think. I don’t want to live in the lie, I want to live in the truth no matter how it shows itself on my face and person. They are my badges of honor and I am proud to have earned them. It makes me a little more human, a little closer to the clarity and inner peace that I seek.

The truth isn’t waiting for you, it’s our challenge to search it out. It doesn’t have a conscience, we do. Live up to your truth, it will serve you well. And guess what? You’ll look “Mahvelous” doing it.

Trust me.

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