Effictio (ef-fik’-ti-o): A verbal depiction of someone’s body, often from head to toe.

It wasn’t my birthday, but I looked 75–almost 80, almost alive. I could walk. I could talk. My bodily functions still function, but slowly with difficulty. I still had all my hair—no receding hairline—a big white cloud on top of my head. When I get it cut, it’s like it’s snowing inside Supercuts. .

I was once a whopping 6’4”. I don’t know how or why, but now I’m 6’2”. Still pretty good, but I’m no longer a tower. Now, I’m like a shed with boobs. They jiggle. My tattoos are blurring. I have one on each forearm that I can’t read any more—one refers to the Army, the other is my personal motto: “Veritas pro se non loquitur” “Truth does not speak for itself.” Due to an injury sustained in the Army, my hearing just gets worse and worse every year. My answer to most questions is “What?” even though I’ve got state of the art hearing aids from the VA that I am grateful for.

Moving right along, I’m relatively wrinkle free— my face looks 35-40. I swear. I’m not exactly trim, but I’m still in pretty good shape and go for walks in the woods. Even though I have bright hazel eyes, that go between blue and green depending on what I wear, lately, they don’t see too well. I have double vision all the time—I have black-rimmed corrective glasses that help somewhat, but I can’t get around the mild vertigo induced by the double vision. It slows me down when I’m walking, and going up and down stairs. The topper is my dupuytren’s contracture—making what looks like a claw of my left hand.

You’d think I would be upset by my body’s aging, but many years ago when I was traveling in Peru, in a cave near Machu Picchu, I was shown a silver mirror that erases the effects of aging and reflects you as you were at 22. It was like a reverse Dorian Gray portrait. I visit it once a year. As long as I don’t see my true reflection during the intervening time, I experience myself as 22. Miraculously, my body functions like that of a 22-year-old, I have stamina, my vision is restored’ I can hear a pin drop, and my hand can be laid out flat. tomorrow, I’m headed out on my annual trek to the mirror.

I arrived in Lima early in the morning and took the tour bus to Machu Picchu. I started my hike to the cave containing the mirror. It was ten miles up a narrow trail. As I walked, I marveled at how the cave had remained hidden. I arrived at the cave.

My guide from previous years lay dead outside the cave’s entrance. He had started to mummify in the dry mountain air. I dragged him into the cave’s entrance, so his body wouldn’t draw unwanted attention. I went looking for the mirror and found it! I presented myself to it, and the 22-year-old me was reflected. I was relieved and started to leave the cave. Suddenly, there was a loud rumbling sound and a landslide blocked the way out of the cave. There was no cellphone reception. So, I got my journal out of my backpack, lit a candle, and started to write. If you’re reading this, you’ve found the mirror. Good luck.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu

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