There is something else beyond nostalgia that accompanies me whenever Facebook recommends a memory. You know, where they show you what you wrote on this exact day maybe a year ago or even more? I am in that phase of life where things happen so quickly sometimes you forget just how much you have grown, how much has transpired as time dies away slowly in your hands. And Facebook reminds me, oddly enough, in a way I was never reminded before. Social media is a peculiar thing, to be able to preserve bits of you and represent them exactly as they were, exactly a year later, for you to marvel at after you had forgotten you even thought them at all, even found the urge to write or to share. Because who remembers their own thoughts in yearly increments? Who can preserve that much about themselves int heir minds? It’s not human, it’s not quite normal, is it?
Often, I smile when I read back. I am proud of the collection of musings I have gathered, think about how blessed I am to have been gifted the opportunities to think about the world as I have and to have the community hat I do to smile along with me. You read an old comment and marvel at the ways that the people you love and care for have hanged, and still yet not changed all that much at all. My sentence structures, the ways I write have exploded out of a thousand cocoons up until now, metamorphosis occurring at a blinding rate so fast I forget the shedding until, well, Facebook reminds me.
Growth is something to be proud of, or at least I think so anyway. That’s the goal, right? To grow and shift, to keep moving, to resistant stagnation with all of your being even when you feel so warm and comfortable and protected in your own shell. That’s the spiritual task, to keep moving forward, to keep moving towards God and the example of His prophet. That’s the point, to get better, to do better, to know better, to be better. Growing is everything. You look at the trajectory of a GPA over the course of a school year and you want to see growth. You look at the stats of a sports player in their early days and you want to see growth. You look at the intellectual path of a leader and you want to see growth. Good books are touted for character development, good movies for the thickening and movement of its plot. Growth is an excellent currency, coveted and needed. It is often a sign of good health, both physically, but also spiritually, to be growing and evolving and coming further into yourself each and every day.
But what is the cost of it all? I often wonder as I stare at the Facebook memory that has arrived at the top of my screen. Surely, in the stages of it all, in the midst of things coming of age, of things taking shape, or you finding your voice, you lose things too. Like children lose teeth or tadpoles lose their tails. But what if there are things lost that were good, the good parts of you that were valuable too. What if they get chipped away, perhaps by accident, perhaps as collateral, perhaps simply by design, but still what if you lose good things? Like your fiery spirit or your peculiar sense of humor, or your courageous desire to say what you think and not worry about the consequences? What if growth means you lose those things too? Things and bits and little parts that were important, that you valued, that you forgot you even had until Facebook shows you what you used to think and how you used to write and what you used to say and you sit there wondering if you made a mistake somewhere down the road.
Maybe I traded too much for growth? Perhaps I was willing to give up too much to refine myself, to sculpt and fashion my own name. Maybe I cut a corner too deep, curved a joint too far, maybe I was too eager to morph and I let go of things I will need too someday, down the road. Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I don’t need those parts anymore. Maybe growth is about mellowing out, about maturing, about learning to be okay with a softer voice and less declarative tone. Maybe, it’s about breaking through the surface of the water for the first time. Yes, you lose your gills but you gained perspective. You know, like that the reflection of the sun in the water waste the sun at all, that the wetness that surrounded me was not all that there was, that the simplicity with which I saw the world was just not sustainable.
Diamonds are rocks that are carved into value. What falls away at the command of the chisel is, well, diamond. Still a precious stone. But it has to go to get the cut, to get the predestine refraction of light through the glassiness of the carbon, for the value to be beheld, for the diamond to become a jewel from a rock. And in theory, it lost part of itself that made it more diamond-like, carbon bits that can’t be put back together again. And for what cost? For the cost of a jewel, for the end result of sparkle and shine.
Maybe Allah took life to me like a chisel? Not to say I am a diamond of any sort but I can certainly accept rock-hood. Maybe the Facebook memory, hold with it nostalgia and the whole of me I was before the sculpting began. Perhaps it is hard to believe that I gave up things that were beautiful, for beauty. I have to trust in the process I suppose, hold onto my conviction that the choices I made to carve myself into the woman I am were motivated by all the right reasons. That the goal is to arrive in front of God free of sin and full of Love. All the rest, is well, just the rest. It can go. I can let it go.