Have you ever wondered, “How did I get to this point in my life?” Sure, we can all cast bright shadows of retrospect onto the memories which flash through our consciousness like strangers passing us in a hallway. But when it all comes down to incontrovertible fact, everyone can ask (yet rarely answer) the question of, “How did I get to this point in my life?”
Of course, there are diagnostic answers regarding educational endeavors, occupational experiences, and variations of locale. There are static variables regarding race, geography, socioeconomic upbringing, and lineage. There are fluid variables regarding choices throughout our existence determining a particular moment when we said “Yes” instead of “No,” turned right instead of left, or moved forward rather than remaining stationary.
However, attempting to drop a pin (to use a Google Maps reference) on the place or moment when “everything changed” is nearly impossible for anyone. Granted, there were life changes and events which can pinpoint a particularly significant moment, but that would only be wholly-pertinent if that one moment defined us in our entirety. But this is not the case.
We are all our own intricately woven tapestry of . . . us. Each stitch and thread in the tapestry of our lives is an experience — a triumph or failure; a choice or an inaction; a moment of pride or a moment of regret; a moment spoken, or a moment of silence — and those threads can never be unwoven. Each thread in our life’s tapestry is wrapped around and secured to another thread — another choice, another memory, another failure — and this is what makes our tapestry different from every other tapestry that exists, ever existed, or ever will exist.
One of my favorite books, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, contains the quote, “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” And as much as I love that book (and movie, for that matter), this quote cannot be further from the truth. The tapestry of your life is as unique as any snowflake that flurries to the ground on a chilly and glorious winter’s morn.
Our lives are the current incarnations of the tapestry of events throughout our entire existences, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because when you genuinely take a moment to step back and marvel at the grand tapestry of “you,” you will see beauty in the flaws; not because they are flaws, but because those flaws are attached to some of the most beautiful subsequent stitching of the entire work of art — the work of art which is you.
It can be tough to look at the flawed parts of our tapestries. Looking at my own, I see the threads of choices I regret, I see the thread of being raped as a teenager, I see the thread of choosing a relationship with a former student, I see the thread of being arrested, I see the thread of prison, I see the thread of lasting disgrace.
But I also see the wonderful threads which seem to spawn some of the greatest interwoven sections of my life’s tapestry, many of which started with the flawed threads of the past: I see the thread of my wife, refusing to leave me. I see the thread of my daughter, loving me regardless of leaving her for two years. I see the thread of my parents, who have been the bedrock of my recovery. I see the threads of former students who have contacted me (regardless of my past) to express their gratitude in the difference I made in their lives. I see myself, right now, writing, because now, I am a writer — a professional writer.
And the beauty is, my tapestry is unlike any other, as is everyone’s. No two tapestries of life are identical. Each one carries its own deep shades of beauty, splendor, and wonder. So we, as patrons of the art gallery of life, must look upon each tapestry in the lives of each artist and appreciate how their tapestry is woven, doing our best to observe the beauty, not the flaws; because upon deeper examination, sometimes the flaws in the tapestry are the foundations for some of the most beautifully woven sections of every person’s grand work of art: their lives.
Your tapestry is not done.