How would you feel if your most embarrassing photos were published on Medium?

Experiment in progress: For those who would rather hear and see/ please feedback. g
A photo sitting around 1976/7 ( age 6 or 7)

It is the end of summer Bank holiday here in the UK today which means many events and people travelling. Cee was returning from the Reading music festival so while I awaited her return and bags of washing I got a rare opportunity to read others stories on Medium.

A section I don’t always get to though would like to visit more is Spirituality. I was reading the article below and found that all sorts of emotional memory drawers were sprung open.

I responded with a photo that could make me cringe in certain company yet it also captures a significant time in my life.

I ended my response with, “You may well have given me an idea here to talk about all those photos that embarrass me.”

So tonight I return to talk about them.

You may well think what embarrassing about the featured photo, it is of a cute kid. Yet for me, I feel a certain cringe when I look at it. It at first reminds me of my innocence as a kid. I was quite a gentle kid, slight and I disliked roughness. I was aware that people could be cruel to gentle and slight kids so I avoided any I perceived to be. There is something about the photo that still creates an inner voice that says, “How could you have ever been so innocent, playful, gentle? The world will trample on you, make fun of you, despise you.”

But then it reminds me that at my truest self I can still be innocent, gentle and playful. I am still touched by peoples’ stories, particularly of pain.

1982 / age 11 or 12

This second photo is perhaps 4 years on. It was my last year of primary school before transferring to High School. Look at that haircut and the teeth! But then I see the sparkle of life in those eyes and a smile that wants to convey a joy from inside out. I can still see the innocent, gentle but growing boy.

1986 age 15

Then 4 or 5 years later I have the one above. The innocence has gone, the gentleness has been exchanged for aggression, the eyes have become fearful of the world. The teeth are hidden as the smile has gone. The only thing that is constant is bad haircuts.

This photo was taken as a result of me refusing to take off an athletic top with a political emblem at a schools athletics meeting. It was in Northern Ireland at for me the most politically turbulent time. Somehow between the ages of 11 and 15, I had shed the innocence and gentleness somehow believing it was more acceptable to be hard and at times cruel.

The photo I used in my response begins to signal a move back towards innocence and gentleness though still bad haircuts.

The word integration comes to mind as in life we learn from gentleness and cruelty that there is ‘firm mercy’. Maybe better said in the words ‘Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness’ perhaps that was my problem as an adolescent I mistook my own attributes of gentleness and innocence as a weakness when I needn’t.

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Further thoughts with people anywhere undergoing difficulties particularly those in Houston.

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