Last week I attended a Valentine's Day celebration at my daughter's playgroup. We donned ourselves in red, picked up a few treats, and enjoyed the morning with friends. A photographer was on hand to capture the experience, and when she posted her photos, I eagerly scrolled through looking for adorable images of the babe at play. But when I saw her work I was caught off guard. Where was my chubby cheeked cherub? Where were the curly pigtails? The shy smile? In their place was a long, lean, confident young lady. When did that happen?!
This experience isn't exclusive to parents of small children. Our appearance in the mirror seems unchanged from day to day; it is only when we compare the present to photos from years past that we begin to notice a new laugh line here, an extra furrow there... Our transformation also extends far beyond physical changes. When I reflect on my teaching, my yoga practice, my writing today compared to those things even a few years ago, the differences are stark - though the actual evolution of my work and play has come in barely perceptible adjustments.
When I compare the new and the old side by side I can see that neither is superior. We gain no more by idealizing what has been than we do in straining forward for what lies ahead. Our work is simply to experience the piece of life we are in at this very moment and stay present as it unfolds bit by bit...