I’m not sure who I should have been, or if that’s even a thing, providence and destiny being what they are–or aren’t. I know who I was, have a vague idea of who I am, and no idea who I will become. And, I suppose, that’s about how it should be.
But every so often I do get to wondering, in a pensively muddled Robert Frost meets Thoreau kind of way, what might have been had I chosen differently at even one of the many divergent paths. If I had turned my heart left instead of right, would a different path have emerged from the mist? One I will now never know because it refused to show itself to a dreamer?
I can’t allow myself that luxury very often. Playing “what if” with your past is about as productive as trying to drive using only your rear view mirror.
Still, there are kisses that haunt me with their butterfly wings as they touch the soft part of my neck, songs that transport me to entire scenes that I am forced to watch over and over again with no ability to change the outcomes, scents that transform my longing into insatiable aches in all the wrong places.
Sometimes I think life is a process of elimination, or, as Michelangelo said “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set it free.”
My writing follows this same path. I never know the end of the book until I have typed the last page, and it is precisely this process of discovery, of chipping away at an idea, that allows its beauty to unfold one step at a time. The mist clears, allowing me to explore the things that aren’t right and figure out what’s left.
This idea of sculpting our lives resonates with me. Rather than shaping and building, there is instead a steady chipping away of all that is unnecessary. A refining of curves, a smoothing of edges. It’s more painful this way, but it is also uniquely creative, and doesn’t require you to start out with the whole vision.
My life has been shaped through the loss of pieces of myself, pieces that no longer serve the whole. At times the resulting form seems ugly and unrecognizable, but only until the next, unnecessary piece is shaved away, revealing a new angle that glows when the light hits it just right, beautiful and unrefined.
The gentle washing of time slowly erodes the rough edges of our lives, revealing a new silhouette, the shape of things to come. Who I am is yet to be seen, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.