Google can be a most wondrous tool. In the past year, I've been googled by several people I lost touch with over 35 years ago. This can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing. In these cases, it was a good thing. Google is perhaps the greatest tool to support my theory that there are no longer six degrees of separation, there are only two, and soon, I predict just one degree of separation between any of us on this earth. We know someone who knows someone who knows us. The wheel turns, and brings old friends, loved ones, and even estranged family back together again. These photos were sent to me by a friend who has retired and is living in Costa Rica, and I am very glad we are back in touch.
The photos touched me in a way that I've never experienced before. Sure, I have photos of me at that age sitting around the house, I know what I looked like, but rarely have I seen photos that were so completely candid, so much so that I don't remember them being taken. It is as if they are of a stranger. They give me a much more objective glimpse of myself than when I'm staring into my own eyes my own self. That's more direct, I'm mirroring myself, I'm aware of myself. These photos are OF me through someone else's eyes, taken unawares.
At first, I didn't even recognize them. Then I nearly burst into tears. I felt a kind of sadness I'd never felt before. Not a sadness for lost youth, but a feeling of compassion, a feeling of wanting to protect such an innocent, vulnerable looking young girl, a panicky fearfulness, of wanting to run to her, to warn her, to protect and shelter her from what I know will become her fate. More the pain of lost innocence, a maternal feeling of helplessness in the face of the inevitable. Even more so than with my own child, my own daughter.
Actually, this is good. This makes me think that I have done a better job as a mother than I did as a young woman trying to make her way in a pre-feminist world, in a decidedly more chauvinistic world, when not only were men less capable and aware of treating women as equals, but women were more accustomed to being treated as less than equal, and had no better options, or did not recognize them if they appeared. I like to think that I helped prepare my daughter for life better than I was prepared.
Which brings me around to fear. I received an e-mail from a friend whose birthday party I attended last weekend. There were 3 of us older women at the party, all divorced, and we'd had a discussion about fear keeping us from being who we truly are, that it dictates how we sometimes tend to think we have to try to please and take care of everyone except ourselves, and how damaging that can be to ourselves and those around us. My friend told me that she had taken that discussion to heart, and that she was feeling less afraid about making her own needs known, and that she was feeling stronger, more centered, and more balanced.
I would love to walk up to that wild child, that wisp of a girl in these photos, and say, "Do not be afraid. There are some who would knock you down, tell you lies about yourself, tell you that you are less than if you don't put them first and subjugate your own self to please them. I tell you that you must always seek your own truth. Seek your center and your own balance. Keep yourself healthy so that you can help others to be healthy. Do not let anyone take your own truth from you, for if you do, you will be giving away your very soul. If you are true to yourself, you need never be afraid, for you are of value. You are." Since I can't go back 37 years, then I will just have to say that to every woman I meet, regardless of her age, including myself, every chance I get.