When I was a boy, there used to be quite a popular toy sold at toy stores. It was called a Magic Slate. It consisted of a piece of cardboard with a slab of thin carbon stapled on it. Attached to this would be a thin film of plastic and it would come with a wooden pencil. It was great. You would write what you want on to the thin film with the wooden pencil and suddenly it would appear on the film. Then when you got tired of whatever you were drawing or writing, you would simply lift the film away from the carbon block and voila, your slate would be cleared.
There was just one problem with the toy. The film was very thin and it was easy to tear. And if you pressed too hard on the carbon block you would find that it just wouldn't leave much of an impression, if any impression at all, on the film the next time. The magic slate would only last for a short period of time and then it would be broken. Over time the carbon block would get scarred from the numerous markings and just would not work the same. It was a good toy, but it only lasted a while.
Another toy existed at the same time, one that was quite a bit more durable. Etch a sketch allowed you to use dials. With them you could draw vertical and horizontal lines. Using them together allowed you to make circles or curved or diagonal lines. When you got tired of drawing whatever you were working on, you merely shook the Etch a sketch and your work disappeared. Although more durable then the Magic Slate, Etch a sketches did not like to be dropped and they too eventually wore out. Sometimes it would stop erasing. Sometimes you could do lines in just one direction. But until that time, it was great to work on something and then erase it.
I think life is a lot like these toys. You see, sometimes in life we get to re-invent ourselves. We start a new job. We move to a different city. We meet people who are totally new to us. A few times we might get to totally re-invent our selves. One might drink a lot of coffee at one job and then at the next job refuse to drink it. One might be very shy in one neighbourhood and then decide when they move that they should be much more outgoing. With each move we get to present a different face to others.
But like the Magic Slate or the Etch a Sketch, no matter how we try to re-invent ourselves we bring with us the memories, the celebrations, the sadness of the past, and the scars. No matter how hard we try, we can't fully erase the past. We bring with us our experiences, our challenges, our unique gifts, and our viewpoints. At this time of year, when we put to bed one year and begin another one afresh, this is very true. We might make resolutions to change, to improve, to grow, and to begin again. We may make some of these changes. But as we do so, we bring with us our old selves as well.
Go well in to 2018. Tread lightly. Grow in understanding. Be gentle with yourselves and with others. Blessings.
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