Is that me?

A friend of mine sent me a photograph today, quite out of the blue. An insignificant little moment from my 13th year captured and frozen in time by the lens of a camera. To say it roused a whole riot of emotions in me is perhaps a slight understatement.

When the photograph popped onto the screen, it first surprised a laugh out of me. I was pleasantly surprised and my first thought was, quite unabashedly, ‘How cute!’. But then the surprise wore off and in its wake I was left nursing an itty bitty little heartache.

It had been a while since I had last seen that face or felt any familiarity with it. It has been a while since I felt that pure, sweet, without-a-care-in-the-world kind of innocence that one finds in children and is reflected in their sweet faces.

But curiosity, that trait which turned an ape into a man, proved a better companion than innocence and found me promptly peering into a mirror. The face that gazed back seemed layered, shuttered. Time had proven a worthy sculptor, marking with great adroitness, life’s experiences, good and bad, upon my being. There are shadows, depths, veils now which weren’t there before.

As I was about to shrug my shoulders and say, ‘ah well, c’est la vie’, my 10 year old son said something funny making me laugh and there, just like that, I saw her. Laughing back at me, with me. I held her in that laughter, summoned there by my child. I held her there for a beat more and then turned away, let go. Something had shifted in me. Something had changed again. But change is sometimes a good thing. Because change leads to growth.

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