I was recently recommended You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith (not the actress).

Smith brings up an idea that I will say, I’ve been sitting with. She offers, that instead of shedding former selves, we are adding. Like nesting dolls. Always carrying that former self with us. And when we transform, we add another layer. My mind immediately went to rings on a tree. The tree carries with it all the smaller versions of itself.

Smith doesn’t offer this in the under the guise of forgiveness or pain, but as a teacher. The memory of that version of yourself you remember and can see so vividly. They are always with you. It can take a song, a smell, jogging yourself right back and now looking back with wiser eyes, to appreciate those memories. You also bring these selves forward into today. This sounds like nostalgia, yes?

A quick Google search:

‘What is the true meaning of nostalgia?

The term ‘nostalgia’ derives from the Greek words nostos (return) and algos (pain). The literal meaning of nostalgia, then, is the suffering evoked by the desire to return to one’s place of origin.’

But we have transformed that meaning, haven’t we? Language has evolved to allow for nostalgia to become something special, to cultivate feelings from the past to bring us to a different space in our mind-more positive than negative.

Whether it’s nostalgia or something else, the idea of our experienced life as nesting dolls feels closer to real experience than ‘shedding’ past selves. It humanizes how we carry our experiences. It gives them relevance and layered context. Allowing still space for growth and continual transformation.

Welcome the rings of transformation,