Evolution Happens in Hindsight

You are always evolving. You just can’t see it until it’s already happened.  

When I was 18, I lived with a Quebecois family, and I’d usually offer to do the dishes after dinner. The only trouble was, I was horribly afraid of plunging my hand in the sink to pick up the leftover morsels of food.

Fast-forward a handful of years, and I barely bat an eye when I clear out the sink in my apartment. Sometime between then and now, I shed the fear of gnarly food scraps.

I can’t look back and pinpoint the day I was unfazed by plunging my hand into the sink without wincing, or when I was suddenly able to kill a spider without screaming. I guess that’s how growth happens — so gradually that you barely realize it’s happening at all. Until one day, as you are clearing pieces of food from the bottom of the sink without thinking twice about it, you remember a time when you couldn’t do it at all, when picking up the pieces would make you cringe. And somewhere in between then and now, you grew. You transcended the fear.

The curious thing is that there was a very last time that I would fear plunging my hand in the sink; but in the moment, I would never have known. 

Of course, the beauty of being human is that we have the faculty of choice, of consciousness. We can deliberately choose to change, to conquer a fear. Not all evolution needs to be accidental or based on happenstance; we can take a birds-eye view of our lives, take note of what needs to be tweaked, and devise a plan for its accomplishment.

I’d argue that the most salient personal transformations are not the conquering of negligible fears, like cleaning the kitchen sink. The most powerful transformations are those which we consciously work towards.

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