Do you remember playing with Silly Putty? Similar to clay, you can roll it in your hand and press it on a comic strip to copy the print. You can do this over and over again and reshape the putty to all sorts of shapes and designs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Silly Putty; it can be any type of soft clay. When you roll a soft ball of clay down a path, it’s marked by everything it crosses. It may not be visible to the naked eye but every rock, thistle or blade of grass makes an impression on the ball. The path itself and the angle it provides will influence the shape as it travels along. Some of the impacts mar the clay and leave undesirable scars or designs you may not prefer. None the less, as the ball progresses, the clay will continue to take on new forms. In many respects, we are no different than the clay. Experiences and contacts with each other will influence our shape as we travel down our path in life.
I attended my fortieth high school reunion this past weekend and visited with people I hadn't seen for decades. Thank goodness the old yearbooks were available for us to open up and look at the photos. I was having a great conversation with one guy who said, "I don't remember you." When we opened the yearbook to look at my old photo he said, "I remember her." I busted out laughing and said, “That is ME!.... I'm HER!" He replied with, “You’re really fun and interesting; I wish I had known you back then.” I replied, “I wasn’t anything like this back then, I was still very soft clay.”
For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t terribly excited about going to the reunion. Through my website and blog, I have openly shared many of the private “gouges and mars” I’ve received in my journey in life. Although I am proud of the way I have reshaped these negative and painful experiences, I was still “feeling” fragile. Disclosing and openly discussing my experience of rape in the military made me “feel” vulnerable to old acquaintances. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no cliques and it made no difference if you were a jock, cheerleader, scholar, or clown. We acknowledged and admired each other for the forms we have taken to this point. We only knew that at one point in our lives we had traveled down the same path. Even if we didn’t have specific memories of time spent together, somehow we had made a mark on each other’s lives…..visible or not. We had walked the same corridors and awkwardly participated in the same proms, pranks and pomp and circumstance. It was a good opportunity to review the road we’ve traveled in the last forty years and acknowledge our trials and triumphs. It is the ability to look at our past without regrets that we can look to our future with excitement and hope. Regrets of the past and worry about the future serve no purpose. We’re not finished being shaped or molded. Regardless of how well we plan out our future adventure in life, it will contain bumps, ruts and lush patches. Each mark that is made on our life is what makes us unique, special and beautiful.
Leave a good impression on the clay and lives of others….stay soft and open to enjoy the journey ahead.
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