I love gifts. Especially unexpected ones. Photo by Andre P. Meyer-Vitali
For as long as I can remember, I have put artifacts and mementos from my life in shoe boxes. In the early years, a shoe box became the keeper of handwritten letters, ticket stubs, and theater programs. In the middle years, I stored birth announcements, baby photos, and kids’ letters to the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause. And more recently, my archives contained the markers of high school and college graduations, meditation retreats, and 50th birthday celebrations.
This past week, I cleaned out my bedroom walk-in closet, in preparation for having our house painted. And there on a high shelf, were the shoe boxes, a treasure trove of memories.
Yet the real unexpected gift was finding journals from ten and fifteen years ago. In those pages, I met my younger self again, with all the angst that comes with parenthood and marriage, changing careers, and starting a business. I first started journaling in 1999, as part of The Artist’s Way practice of Morning Pages.
What a gift to see the path I’ve traveled, to have compassion for the drama of my thirties, to remember the sweetness of young children and to feel the restlessness of being mid-career. Quite honestly, I had forgotten both the “good” and “bad” parts. In reality, there are no “good” or “bad” moments–only experiences that led to where I am now, and shaped who I have become.
In re-reading my narrative of daily life, circa 2000 and 2005, I am reminded of my love for my children and my husband, the support I’ve received from mentors, bosses, colleagues, and friends, and the long standing bonds of family. Photo by Jimileek
I am grateful that this record exists, in my own handwriting. The mind trades in selective and fuzzy recollections, with a good dose of story-telling to fill in the gaps. To connect all of this to the visual images from photo albums is fascinating. I see the photo and think: “This is what I looked like.” But I read the journal and think: “This is what I felt.”
The emotional current in the river of life is what makes us who we are. Our outer “covering” is the result of that inner life. Thanks, Carol Ross, circa 2000, for documenting that emotional current and showing me in a deeper way who I am today.