I used to think that each of us was born as an unformed little white dot. I thought that every experience added on a layer, and that each layer covered the ones before.
I thought that we were like pearls. Layer on layer of life, constantly growing around us until we became fully formed humans. I thought that process would just keep on going until at last we die.
Some of that is no doubt true. We grow and we change and we certainly learn as we move along the paths of our lives.
But now that I’m on the downhill slope of this life, past the midway point, I have a completely different idea.
In the past few years, my husband and I have reconnected with some of our oldest friends. These are people who knew us when we were young and foolish. When we had no real idea yet of who we’d be.
When we weren’t much more than those unformed “dots.”
These were the people who watched us struggle to learn our limits, and who watched us struggle to define our dreams. They grew with us. Our friendships were more intense than any we’d ever have again, although we didn’t know that at the time.
Eventually, we grew up. We got our degrees. We parted ways as we moved into our ‘real’ lives. We became parents. We launched our careers. We grew into our adult selves.
Layers were laid upon our layers.
Then, oh so suddenly, we found ourselves at the point in our lives where we were no longer “on our way.” We were THERE.
Our children grew up. We became the “old guard” at our jobs.
We thought we were our fully formed, true selves.
But now we’ve hugged and laughed with those old friends. Now I see that its time to peel back some of those layers. Those layers of cynicism, and of fatigue. It’s time to scratch off the layers of unfulfilled dreams, and to let them fly away on the wind. It’s time to peel away the layers of self-criticism and drop them into the passing stream.
Now it’s time to go back to our truest selves, our best selves.
I think that in the presence of the people who knew us at our wide-eyed best we can once again find that inner, innocent self.
I think the pearl is in there, but it takes an old and true friend to help us find it.