My dad comes from a proud line of prominent nosed peoples. I take after my father in many ways, and the nose is quite obviously one of those. My parents were always generous with their love toward their children and I grew to develop a fairly good sense of self. But my nose was always a problem for me.
Over the years enough lovely people in my life assured me that this protruding edifice at the center of my face is not as conspicuous as I seem to believe that I almost trust their judgment. Almost. Still, my message to my children – and to anyone who passes under my nose – is that beauty is absolutely, empirically measured by inner character and heart.
The nose is the object of a range of idioms – ‘on the nose,’ ‘under one’s nose,’ ‘pay through the nose’ – but I am partial to the phrase, ‘to have a nose for,’ which indicates a natural talent or ability for something. Sociologists and behavioral psychologists will likely never find consensus around the question of how much we are shaped by nature in relationship to nurture. Whatever the case, I am often reminded of how much I resemble my dad.
This is why I have decided to join my daughter in piercing our noses, to adorn them with a lovely bit of jewelry. I want to acknowledge my nose – a part of me that shapes my visage in a way that is unique, that is me. I want to purposefully embellish it, to proudly pose in profile this prepossessing portion of my parentage.
As it happens, today is also my father’s birthday. He died when I was nearly twelve. This week marks the time during which it is now longer that he has not gazed at the world down his glorious nose than when he did. Still, his legacy lives on through his children, and his children’s children, and for that, I am unspeakably grateful. He was a generous, loving, joyful human being. He loved people and wanted to be a part of making things right in this world. These are all characteristics I hope now characterize me, and already clearly see in my own children. So, I guess you could say I have a nose for it!