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Reverse patina

Imagine moments of happiness and joy after getting something new. A book, a device, a renovated floor, a set of dishes, and a new plot of land for plants. The feeling of having something beautiful at your disposal is always thrilling.

This lasts until you notice a dent, scratch, weed, or something that is the first sign of wear and tear. These are the moments when you may feel disappointment and sadness.

These are the marks of the most useful and loved things in many situations. It is a sign of importance, reverse patina.

For example, I got sad when I discovered that one of my childhood favorite books had several pages loose. My kids and I have repeatedly read this book cover to cover. While reflecting on this, I realized how much this book impacted me. And the same book, out of which I had gotten so much, had a similar effect on my kids. The loose pages were a sign of this—the mark of importance. In the opposite situation, my children would have brushed this book off without opening it and kept it in better shape without impacting their lives and thinking.

The same line of thought can be applied to life events. But this analogy is more accessible to talk about than to remember in the stormy events of life. The pressure and friction are shapers or breakers. In psychology, posttraumatic growth (PTG) is a positive psychological change that occurs after a person has faced highly stressful life events. It involves changes in thinking and relating to the world and the self, resulting in a deeply meaningful personal transformation.1 For our everyday lives, this definition may sound too grand, and still, some things hurt us so deeply that they keep haunting our memories for a long time. In these life events, it is tough to remember that life is beautiful, people are good, and most of this is happening in your head. The force of the blow is long dissolved, but the mind is still dealing with echoes.

The stimulus had already happened, and the choice for a proper response seemed nonexistent. There was no pause between these two. The same happened to me when I saw my favorite book worn. The same happened when I got mistreated in school. The same happened when I was dealing with powerful difficulties at work. I was confused, upset, and triggered. Each event took time to process, think through, and accept. The more complicated the disturbance, the silencing echo, the longer it took to get over.

These are the fruitful pauses to reverse, learn, and regain confidence and happiness. These are the marks of the most forming and memorable in life. It is a sign of importance, reverse patina.

  1. Post-Traumatic Growth. (2024). In Wikipedia ↩︎