One of my colleagues was feeling bored recently so he decided to Google the people around him. Once he finally worked out how to spell my name correctly (Lucretia is a little tricky), he typed it in and then turned to me with a look of surprise and perhaps, incomprehension, on his face.
Some of the images on his screen were, in many ways, very different to the face he saw a couple of desks away. His surprise made me laugh aloud and then, for a moment, I wanted to erase them all because I didn’t feel like they were very flattering.
Of course, I couldn’t do that without a lot of effort (nothing ever disappears on the Internet) and I realise now that I don’t want to. When I look at those images or the ones on Facebook or elsewhere, I can see the marks of where I’ve come from drawn all over my face and body.
The photos document when I was miserable inside (and carrying far too much weight as a result) and they show when I’m in recovery from a break-up. They also portray the moment when I was in a foreign land, independently forging ahead as life’s adventures called me on. Others show me when I am, quite simply, happy with my life.
None of those pictures show me as I am now. How could they? In any given moment we can transform from the person we were two minutes ago into the person we choose to become.
It is this capacity to transform rapidly that I can see when I look back over my photos from the past decade or so. I have transformed my life from what it was and moved it into the direction of what I wish it to be. I am no longer the same person.
But that woman in my past, the one who was just trying to do her best at any given moment, deserves my compassion. She doesn’t deserve to be erased because she was awkward, made mistakes or wore bad outfits. Instead she should be celebrated and embraced with all of her lumps, bumps and her sometimes less than ideal choices, because she is me. She is where I’ve come from and where I’ve learned who I am.
Every image that captured her progress shows transformation underway. A transformation into someone I love…me. Those images show that change is possible, that I have learned from my choices (positive and not so positive) and that my potential for growth is unlimited.
What a gift then to see my more rounded face with bad hair and a strained smile on the screen. Because that woman is me and she is a wonderful human being. Just like everyone else walking around on this beautiful planet.