Foil

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time… ~ T.S. Eliot

I never know who I’m going to be in January. Sometimes the New Year infuses me with dynamic energy and renewed determination. Sometimes the old year haunts the new, leaving me deeply introspective and longing for nothing more than profound simplicity and clarity. Last year’s roller coaster ride has left me feeling weary and buffeted yet believing even more fervently than before that everything is fuel for coaches and writers. All life is learning. Capturing and filtering moments for this column remains a blessing, a constant reminder to stay open and connected and to be grateful for the life-affirming insights I find in the most unlikely of situations.

The other day, I dropped a roll of metallic kitchen foil before I could tear off a piece to line the grill pan. Cursing under my breath, I watched it unfurling like a broad silver ribbon before I could catch it. (Now, if this has never happened to you, I suggest you try it just once!) The beautifully smooth, wrinkle free, neat, tidy tube of shiny, delicate foil, which starts off wrapped snugly around its cardboard core, has to be rolled back up by hand.

I can never, never get it back tight, smooth and neat. Holding the tube at both ends, I wind and roll, roll and wind, but no matter how carefully I do it, I always leave crinkles and the rustling roll that was once tightly, mechanically wound and smooth becomes fatter and uneven at the edges. It rarely goes back into its cardboard box, you know, the one with the saw-like cutting edge. Nor is it ever as easy again to smoothly tear off pieces along the cutter.

But today, I found myself smiling, then grinning as I rolled up the metallic foil, knowing it would end up crumpled and squashed. It reminded me of me.

Every time I pick myself up from a disappointment or a fall, or an unplanned life detour, I’m never the same. As long as I can still do what I was created to do, does it really matter if I never fit back into the tidy constraints of the original ‘box’, a box that was precision cut to contain something perfect and unused, leaving no room for untidy growth, movement or change?!

If we tumble out of our ‘boxes’, if we’ve fallen or ‘failed’ or made a break for freedom and found ourselves travelling, unravelling out of control away from our cores, we don’t want to be wound back up tight and constrained in the same way ever again. Or even worse, scrumpled up into a ball and binned because we no longer fit some artificially constructed notion of perfection. If we roll out of control and need to be gathered up and rescued, it’s nice to be valued despite the wear and tear or because of the wear and tear; it’s even more empowering if we’re the ones doing the rescuing.

All journeys expand the layers of our awareness just as our flaws increase our learning and our wisdom, making us ‘bigger’, richer people – like the roll of metallic foil getting fatter, more crumpled, more interesting as it’s gently reeled in and furled back around its never changing core. We may spiral back to where we started on our journeys, often feeling frustrated that we’re back at the same place – but it never is exactly the same place if we’ve learned and grown along the way.