I’ve come to believe that as we age, the muscles and fleshy structure of our faces take on a shape that portrays the most prevalent thoughts and feelings that occupy our minds. The word for this is derived from Old French: contenir – to contain. Countenance is the picture we see on a person’s face and the premise is that a face can be read like the pages of a book. Some faces are difficult to read and others quite easy. My own ability to read a face is not formally trained or scientific. I rely on my instincts, subliminal processes and experience with people. My hope is for a telling discernment.
The two most prominent women in American politics today are Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. When Palin walked onto the stage with McCain for the first time I knew nothing whatsoever about her. This condition within my own brain lasted only milliseconds. I was immediately struck by the difference I saw in her face as compared to what I usually see in the face of a seasoned politician. In place of the hardened and fortified expression of those who have spent years battling to advance their political agenda, I saw a freshness and an almost child-like innocence. If the eyes are the window to the soul, who could help but notice that Sarah’s eyes are wide open, accessible and transparent. They exude a cheerful optimism and peacefulness not often seen in the dour circus of political figures.
In contrast, there are few persons that have affected me the way Ms. Clinton has. Rightly or wrongly, I have powerful impressions when I read her face. Her countenance gushes forth with volumes of descriptive information. There is a hardened seriousness to achieve her goals, possibly at any cost. Cold and calculating to near the point of absolute zero, I wonder if any cost is too high. Any expressions of pleasantness seem slightly unnatural, if not forced. I see a clever person, but without the skill to completely veil the inner self. I feel a chill in the air.
Time will tell if Palin can survive the onslaught of political scrutiny or the pressures to conform to the will of other, more powerful, figures and yet retain any semblance of innocence. The coming decade will reveal if Hillary’s massive ambition will go unrequited and leave even more lines and bulges of bitterness on her face.
In fairness, I must acknowledge that Sarah was blessed at birth with the genetics of a pretty face. Still, I have seen that beauty can be either cultivated or scared-over by the thoughts we entertain. The eyes and the mouth are particularly susceptible to the impulses unconsciously transmitted from the brain. I sincerely hope that Sarah’s eyes remain transparent and charitable. As Charles Gibson interviewed her recently, I thought I saw in her eyes a temporary emotional fortification, as defense against the massing forces of political animosity. I hope it’s temporary, and I hope I’m right about what lies behind those eyes. For Hillary’s sake, I hope I’m wrong about hers.