It's said that we are the sum of our existence. Each tiny moment in our lives shaping the person we are and the people we become. Like the unseen hand of a sculptor, moments chip away, revealing ourselves beneath the layers of cold, hard marble.
Sometimes there are imperfections, veins of discoloration revealed, a knock by the hammer just a little too hard. Some may call them character flaws, others just 'character,' either way, they walk with us, hand and hand, the little bits of us we choose to see or not see.
When I was six or seven, I broke a light cover with a beach ball and it rained down bits of broken glass over me. I can still point out all of the tiny scars- one on my arm, one on the edge of my nose, and one just above my lip. It's the reason I have a crooked smile. The reason I fear glass. And the reason I continue to push my boundaries, even when I shouldn't.
When I was eleven, my parents fought so much that my mom feared he would hurt her physically, so she hid all the [unloaded] guns in my bedroom. It created a mutual fear and respect for weapons. The weight of an unloaded gun in my tiny hands was just has heavy. And the doll who hid the gun beneath her dress forever held a guilty smile in my memory.
When I was in fifth grade, a teacher singled me out and made fun of me in front of the class. Sure, I talked a lot, and I still do. That one stung in a new way. I learned that bullies never grow up and that grown folks make bad decisions too. I vowed to never be unnecessarily mean. And while I have my moments, I like to think I still remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of cruelty.
At age 20, I stood before a judge, shame licking at my neck as I said, yes, I did in fact write that hot check. But no, I hadn't meant to. And no, I didn't plan on doing anything like that again. That singular moment taught me humility. I felt so judged, by the crowd and by myself. I never bounced a check again. Frankly, I couldn't afford to.
There are moments that we don't dwell on, but carry with us throughout our day. Often I forget they are with me. These small scars, sometimes self-inflicted, sometimes brought on by others. They don't define me, and never will; but they are a part of me, for good or bad. Sometimes I laugh at my crooked smile and it throws me back into that moment, twenty five years ago. And even though I hardly ever think about it, I can remember the room perfectly, the light coming through the curtains and the dread in my stomach that I had done something terrible.
There are thousands of tiny moments like this throughout my life, just like yours that brought me to this point. To this person that I am today. New cuts. New nicks. New life lessons. Each and every day. Like a moving river, never to be exactly like we were yesterday. As you live your life, as you make your way through your day, consider these moments, our tiny shared experiences and know that each of us is simply a collection of things, and tread lightly.