I’ve been doing a lot of reflection. About the last 5 years of motherhood, the last 10 years as a working artist, the last 17 years with John, and really, about the last 40 years of this remarkable journey as a human being.
This post is a bit of a tribute to all that reflection, and also a portal for me to access a way of joyfully reflecting on (and celebrating) my life in the present, the NOW.
This shot was taken the day we crammed a tiny black Honda Civic Accord hatchback with our most treasured possessions. Photo albums, jewelry, books, all three pairs of my beloved overalls. We’d started dating 12 weeks before. We were 24 years old and deeply in love.
We set off for Portland, Oregon with John’s yucca tree taking up the entire backseat. We were on an adventure. We still are.
Although I was savoring our new found in-love-ness, there was so much I didn’t know back then. I didn’t know how truly blessed I was. I didn’t know how many opportunities and privileges were swirling in my young life. And I definitely didn’t know that John was going to get more handsome, year after year (oh my, he really has).
Today, as I flip through our beloved photo albums and meander down memory lane, I’m seeing it all so differently. I don’t see two crazy kids making reckless decisions. I see bravery, adventure and the beginnings of a true partnership.
Have you ever noticed how looking back often has that afterglow effect? It shines a light that shows you just how much grace and joy you had. The time and distance reveal the truth and beauty that filled your life back then. The afterglow is a softer view of your yesterday self.
In the afterglow, we see how lovely, how smart, how tender, how amazing, how perfectly imperfect, how cool we were. We see ourselves in a full, true way, and we become awed by what we see.
Wow, she was only 23. How courageous she was, deciding to move 3000 miles away to create a new life. She was a brave seeker who lived with a full, open heart.
The sad truth is that it often takes so many years for us to see these things. And the afterglow doesn’t create these truths – we were those things in the moment, but we didn’t see it.
And that means we are those things right now, too. Right now, we are brave in love, brave in sadness, brave in grief and anxiety, brave in the healing of our hearts. And we don’t need to wait on the afterglow to acknowledge these things. We can choose to view our lives with a gentler perspective, today. Right now.
That’s become my practice lately: to close the gap on the afterglow effect, so that I can view myself and my life through that softer gaze NOW, instead of waiting 15 years.
I am continuing the practice of learning to see the sweetness that happens in and around the cramped to-do list, the inevitable exhaustion of parenting, the messy hearts and all the unknowns I can never predict. I am choosing to see myself for the woman I am today, and to see John for the man he is today. Everyday, I’m choosing to see our son True with these fresh, celebrating eyes.
I’ve made myself a promise not to wait and reflect on my life at a later date, anymore. I’ve opened my heart, so that I can take it all in right now – in ultra high-definition clarity. And in that clarity, I see purpose, meaning, and pure love.
Now, instead of the afterglow, my life is all… glow.
My wish is that we all cherish who we were before, and also who we are today.