The Girl In The Picture

A friend of mine who has known me for a LONG time sent me some pictures he found in an old box.  Pictures of me.  Pictures of me taken over 30 years ago, when I was 25.  I am still reeling from the shock of them.

I hardly recognized myself.  I kept staring at these pictures wondering, “Who IS that??”  I recognized her, but I didn’t recognize her as ME. I couldn’t remember being her.  I couldn’t remember what that girl sounded like when she spoke, or what she thought about, or what she did with her days.

She had long brown hair and a slim figure and a line-less face and there were no bags under her eyes and she could see without glasses or contacts.

It made me realize how close to the end of my life I am.

32 years ago I had no idea how my life was going to play out. I could never have fathomed a future in which I could be standing at a desk, in my yoga studio, looking at pictures of myself unable to recognize myself.

I keep looking at these pictures and asking, dumbfounded, “Who IS that girl?”

One thing for sure: It both is, and isn’t “me.”

So the question becomes: Who am I? Am I that girl in the picture? Or am I this woman sitting here writing on this gray February morning?  And how did that girl in the picture turn into this person I am now?  And how come I want to cry when I look at that picture?

That girl is not who I am now. Time has radically changed me. Not only my looks, but everything. I want to say, caterpillar into butterfly, but in terms of beauty, it’s more like butterfly into caterpillar.

But my biggest reaction was: Holy shit! Time is running out! I’m getting old!  What have I done with my life??!!  It’s almost over.  In 32 years from now, if I last that long, I’ll be 89.  Will I be ready to die? Is anyone ever ready to die?

Will I, in 32 years, at the end of my life, be thinking: Good job, Kath. You got a bit of a late start, but you certainly made up for it! Bravo! Life well lived!

That is what I hope to be able to say: Life Well-Lived.

So if that’s the goal, how do I get there? How do I live my life from here on out so that I can be able to say that at the end? How do I live a “well-lived life?”

Some possibilities:

1. Help. Be of service. Ease the path for others.

2.  Create beauty and joy in my wake, everywhere I go.

3.  Give freely of my gifts (and know what they are!)

4.  Leave a legacy of happiness.

5.  Make every day count. Make a daily contribution.

6.  Express gratitude.

7.  Be kind and unfailingly friendly.

If I did those 7 things every day, for the rest of my life, would that constitute a life well-lived? Would that earn me a small “Bravo!”?

I know I am a small rock, but even small rocks can create strong ripples in a pond if thrown with enthusiasm and a certain amount of force.

This thought gives me hope.

And it takes away some of the fear.

3 thoughts on “The Girl In The Picture

  1. Kathleen:

    You know what? You are going to live a long and fruitful life, so don’t you ever talk about death. Even thinking about death is too morbid for my tastes. If you feel blue, your readers will be supportive. And we’ll try to cheer you up.

    The girl in that photo was beautiful and so are you. And your age right now has nothing to do with your beauty. Beauty is who you are deep inside of you, and it is independent of wrinkles, brittle bones, and other external linkages. So there.

    Bless your heart for writing to us. You add value to our lives by sharing your personal journey, and I think that reflects the beautiful person you are.


  2. You are already living a life-well-lived and making those 7 offerings daily. Thank you – beautiful you! (and it’s totally NOT ‘butterfly back to caterpillar’ absolutely not not not … it’s TOTALLY butterfly ever-emerging and wings expanding and colors intensifying and butterfly becoming & becoming & becoming …)

    As always, thanks for this beautiful, inspiring post!


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