I remember once I was on a high school Kairos retreat when a teacher gave a talk about how you come to know yourself. She constructed a thoughtful visual aid by putting on a bunch of old t-shirts. With each piece of clothing she added (t-shirts she got for being in this club or that, for playing a sport in college, etc.), she grew. Her shirts barely fit one over the other by the end.
To be honest, I don’t remember what conclusions she drew at the end of her talk. But as I recall it now, I know what I took out of it. (1)
All of these t-shirts were representatives of places she’d been--of people she’d been, and roles she played. But as she put one on top of the other, she got bulkier. Her movements became more stitled. She commented that it was a good thing she was out of t-shirts, cuz she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to get another one on.
And I think I’ve always remembered this because it’s such a good metaphor for growth. If you take it all with you--the entirety of each piece of fabric--you don’t grow the way you want to. You get too bulky.
So instead, maybe it’s okay to pay our respects to the people we’ve been, without taking every ounce of the experience with us in ways that weigh us down.
1. Apologies, Ms. C., if I totally didn't get this right... but it still meant a lot to me.
2. Another great example of not taking EVERYTHING with you. I carry Kairos in my heart, but those glasses and that sweatshirt both had to go eventually (though that black sweatshirt put up a hell of a fight.)