I turn 33 this week. Lately, I’ve thought a lot about how life, and we, change over time. Darren and I have said many times how we feel like completely different people from the ones we were before our children were born. I can think of many breaks in life where it feels, though I didn’t recognize it at the time, like I moved from being one person to another during a time of change.
From the scrappy, resourceful, dreaming tomboy I was growing up, to the still dreaming but much more girly teenager I grew into. I was outgoing and adventurous when I started college but much quieter and reserved by the time I finished. I was one girl before I fell in love with Darren, left my parent’s home and moved across the country to begin a new life married and working. And certainly the greatest break and change in person came when my son was born and I became not just myself, but a mother also.
So, looking back, it feels as though I’ve been many different people in my life. As though different seasons and circumstances have revealed many different facets of the same complicated soul. A line I’ve always loved from the movie Little Women comes to mind. Jo March is told she should have been a lawyer and she responds with:
I should have been a great many things.
Indeed, Ms. March, we all should and could have been a great many things were the circumstances and timing of our lives different. But as Jane Austen once said:
It could have turned out differently, I suppose. But it didn’t.
It seems much of my growing up and becoming happened quite young — in hard circumstances, in soil that allowed only for survival and not for petty or silly things to grow. I was scrappy because I needed to be. I was a dreamer because sometimes those dreams of something else were the only thing holding my head above water until the tide changed and landed my feet on more solid ground.
When life became more comfortable, I became more petty. Sometimes, I walk though the house I live in now, my house, filled with comfort and nice things, and I have to ask what the twelve-year-old version of myself might think. Why? Because at 12 I knew well what life was and was not about. I could separate the wheat from the chaff with a discerning eye because I had lived with only what I needed to survive and knew exactly how much I could do without. It’s a lesson I need to be reminded of often now that I have so much more and can easily get carried away in the currents of comfort and convenience.
Though we grow through many selves in our lives, sometimes our younger selves knew more and lived wiser than the older selves we’ve grown into. Age does not guarantee wisdom.
I believe now that our souls are ageless. The bodies in which our souls are housed grow, change, decay, pass away. But the soul is born with a certain depth beyond years and maintains a certain childishness it never grows out of. That is why children sometimes say and understand such profound things beyond their years. And why, I at 33, would gladly climb a tree or build a treehouse to play in if being an adult didn’t keep me too busy and proud to do such things. The soul is as it was — outside the restraint of years. The mind and heart grow and change as does the body but our soul remains the same — ageless, eternal.
So I reflect and wonder today about who I’ve been, become, and who I am yet to be. There is a thread of the soul, of my truest self, that has remained throughout each change. The dreamer. The romantic. The adventurer. The writer. The tender-hearted. The short-tempered. The restless. For all that has changed, these have remained.
Each season, a different apparition of the soul. Spritely, fleeting visions of ourselves hidden and unearthed as we move and change through life. Our true self only to be fully known and understood on the other side of heaven. For now, we are each of us, sojourners in a strange land. Sojourners at times even in our own hearts and minds. Traveling ever onward until we find our way back Home.