Attaining Life

Must we choose between redefining and reinventing?

Every 5 years or so I find myself wandering through a season of questioning, of wondering who I am, as a human being, and whether I am content with the entity, the human I am today – or whether I have lost parts of myself along the journey. If so, do I regret those loses?

All to say that I find myself looking up the words “redefine” and “reinvent,” wanting to see what the difference is. Wanting to see whether, by choosing one or either of those words, I am truly setting myself free or admitting that I have gone terribly wrong in my life path, needing to completely start over. Would choosing one word – to define my current life season – help me ease into ….what?

Redefine, at first blush, instills a sense of hope, of finding pieces of myself, from youth, childhood, singlehood, etc., and putting all of that together as if in a quilt of memories stitched together to make a whole.

Reinvent sits negative. While there is a hint of opportunity, to start afresh amidst new circumstances, that word sits difficult in my heart…as if either myself or those around me dislike, disapprove, have a disdain for, the person I am today.

Yet the path of looking both those words up begins to liberate both myself and my opinions, as every good journey usually does.

The journey of redefining…

The journey that redefine offers me begins with its simple grammatical description. It is a transitive verb, relating to transition, going from one place to another, a semi-smooth logical progression. The dictionary offers up “redefine” as to define again, to reexamine with a view to change, to transform. I follow the word transform, highly intrigued by its aspiration to define a change in composition, outward appearance, character, or condition. Yet it’s the synonyms that catch hold of me: Transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function; Metamorphose suggests an abrupt or startling change induced by or as if by magic or a supernatural power; Transmute implies transforming into a higher element or thing; Convert implies a change fitting something for a new or different use or function; Transmogrify suggests a strange or preposterous metamorphosis; and finally…Transfigure implies a change that exalts or glories. (All definitions courtesy of Merriam Webster.)

My eyes linger over each of those words, and suddenly redefine seems like a tangible effort, a process that takes endurance and work, but something achievable nonetheless. Looking at myself from this perspective of 46 years of age, I do not see the loss of decades past, the loss of parts of myself. I do begin to see the

  • Transformation…of a body preparing for the need for strength, as muscles weaken and stamina lessens naturally; of a nature of practicing and sharing patience with those who are younger and quick to judge, blame, scorn
  • Metamorphosis of a body no longer young, and abruptly and overnight showing the lack of care spent on it in previous years
  • Conversion as a new season of lessons and experiences come my way, and I look at a different purpose
  • Transfiguration towards a more cohesive self – albeit still full of faults, but quicker to notice the need for hearing complaints about oneself and making the choice to transmogrify.

Basking in the peace and serenity that redefine offers, the opportunities, I choose to look up the definition of redefine, with the same grace and wonder as I read about reinvent.

Choosing to forgive reinvent…

Reinvent presents itself to me simply. To make as if for the first time something already invented. Okay – reinventing myself. There may be no need to reinvent the wheel in an attempt to make something better – but when it comes to human beings, can we stop and choose to reinvent ourselves, again and again and again? While those questions bounce around my mind, it is the third definition that brings me to a full stop: to bring into use again. Something old, something borrowed, something blue…it all has purpose, whether it be on someone’s wedding day and traditions, or whether in our own reinvented, redefined lives.

I have parted ways with many parts of myself (what human has not?). Yet as I look in the mirror, or ponder, or step outside myself and look back at me, I do decide that some of those decisions were done in haste, to please others, to remove myself from what I defined as uncomfortable circumstances. Other parts of myself were no longer useful, beneficial, or harmful to myself, discarded due to the transformation and conversion of the season of life I was in. Those parts that are lingering in my own shadow, either waiting patiently or waiting anxiously, deserve the possibility of being reinvented, to be brought into the daylight of my 46th year on this earth and be used again, perhaps to be transmuted.

And how about you?

With all that being said, in whatever season or year of life you find yourself, are you redefining and/or reinventing yourself? Chime in on the comments – and let’s share with the world and those we love our daily-transfigured selves.