When my friend, Alissa Tyler, asked me to hunt for a picture of the first car that made a powerful impression on me, I had some trepidation. The burgundy Mazda 626 represented my first foray into true independent adulthood. I am not a picture taker—could I even find a picture of my first experience of the independence of owning a car?
Several hours later, I didn’t find a picture of the elusive Mazda 626, but I did find memories. Images of myself as a younger woman, images of myself as a child, pictures of my life before I was who I am now. As I flipped through pictures, it was almost as though they belonged to someone else. I looked at the person in the pictures, seeing something very different than I used to see when I looked at pictures. I didn’t go back in time on a memory trip linked to the picture. I didn’t get lost in self-conscious criticism over what was happening or the person I saw in the photo. Instead, I saw a beautiful human being who has walked her path, and lived her experiences and who was very much present in the now in the picture. I saw a cheerful, open child who cared so much about what other people were feeling and what they thought that she nearly took herself apart trying to help. I saw a happy young woman who glowed with the joy of her first, deep love affair, before it changed. I wanted to hug that younger me, to wrap her in my arms and share with her that life will step beyond what she could possibly imagine—that she will own a burgundy Mazda, and step into the freedom and independence of being herself.
No, I didn’t find a picture of the burgundy Mazda 626 that marked such a powerful moment in my life, but I did find something else—my wings. That beautiful, wonderful part of ourselves that guide us and help us reach heights we can’t even imagine as children and young adults. Those invisible, but very much present pieces of our deepest selves that carry us into our futures and remind us of the luminous beings we really are.
As I look back on my past represented in the pictures I did find, I wonder: what will I see forty years from now, looking back on my life now? How will I see the me of now? I don’t know, but I do know that it is time to let go of self-criticism and doubt and soar through the skies, supported by the same thing that has always supported me: the deepest, most precious, divine part of me. I saw her in those pictures and I see her now. I will see her forty years from now, too.
What an incredible gift the hunt for that Mazda—and my friend Alissa—brought me!