While digging through my photo archives I found this self-portrait from circa 1970, give or take about one year. It is from a four photo strip, taken by one of those photo kiosks that dot, or dotted, fair midways and shopping malls.
Many thoughts surfaced as I looked at myself over a span of 42 years.
It literally is the face of a dead man. The human body replaces all of its component cells once every seven years: physically, we are not same person that we were seven years ago. I am six times re-incarnated since that photo was taken.
At the time the picture was taken my life was in shambles or at least, it seemed like it was. Raging hormones and a dysfunctional family life, a common burden carried by many young people, had me riding an emotional roller coaster. I had no idea who I was or what to do. Today, my life is still full of turmoil but, with six re-incarnations under my belt, I have evolved into a survivor: confident in my abilities to weather life’s storms and periodic anguish.
Then, I asked the questions “Who am I?” and “Why me?”
Today, I know who I am for better and worse.
Today, I understand that shit happens: sometimes as the result of my decisions and sometimes just because.
Today, I understand that cause and effect and happenstance applies to good fortune and bad equally. You buy your ticket and you take your ride.
Lastly, as I stared into my youthful eyes I am reminded of those haunting Civil War tin-types. Young men looking resolutely into a future that they can not know.
Good job kid. You’ve made it this far. You’ve had some successes and failures. Ultimately, you laid a solid foundation that your incarnations have built on and now carrying forward.