There is a moment in your life where you can stand firmly and confidently on the mound of where you are and look back from where you’ve come; more specifically, where it began and how you have made your way down the long and winding path. It’s a sobering, amazing, complicated and often epiphanal moment on more levels than I can go into in a single blog. But it’s worth at least scratching the surface. Of late, I’ve done just that; then again, my brain does not have an off switch (if someone's does, please let me know where to locate it) so I've always been one to ruminate, reflect and marvel at the long journey we undertake as human beings.
When I do look back, it’s hard to be overcome with a mixture of amusement and pride for the person I’ve become. Partly as the former me, shall we say, was a ball of erratic energy that went through life at 80 miles per hour (most of the time with a smile that encapsulated oh so many different meanings) and often failed to understand the consequence of things. There was a fearlessness there that I always prided myself on (and now utterly marvel at) that often meant I truly let life take me without often thinking about where exactly I was going. The present me finds this hysterical as now I’m a planner on a grand scale and fear is something I know all too well. Hence why it’s always amusing to look back and muse over all that reckless abandon one possessed, as you try eagerly to recapture a fraction of that liberation (then again, some do it the opposite and don't throw caution to the wind until they're older). This is the part of life I find the most fascinating, the part where you truly try to form a bridge between the former and latter, the old and the new, and connect these two parts with the glue of wisdom and life experience. In short, “Best of old me…meet best of new me…now discuss and figure out how to co-exist.”
Saying all this, for some this moment, or series of moments never occurs, and hence why mistakes are repeated or gratitude and reflection is never reached. I implore those that can handle it to not let this happen, as reflection, as sobering as it is, is mighty useful not to mention highly amusing at times. Who doesn't like a good trip down memory lane where one can laugh at mistakes and cringe at all those unbelievable missteps. Or conversely celebrate those moments where you truly grabbed life by the throat and lived it to its utmost. Furthermore, I truly believe it’s impossible to understand the totality of who you are without fully understanding the past. I’m not talking about dwelling or stagnating in what you can’t change, but to fully appreciate who you are, I think it’s utterly vital to understand who you were. To look at your past mistakes and regrets (like the song says, I’ve had a few) and truly ask yourself if you have indeed learned from them. To examine friendships lost and relationships ended and how that has shaped you. And on an even bigger level, who is still around in your life and is more than willing and able to accept that you have evolved and changed and what that means (not everyone is comfortable with change, hence why we as humans don’t hold onto every solitary relationship we’ve established in life).
I also firmly believe that it’s important to say thank you and give yourself a little needed praise (if you don’t, don’t depend on others to do this) for making it through the vicissitudes of life without ripping your hair out. This lovely planet of ours – by our own doing – can be a tricky place, so to navigate it and come out fairly unscathed deserves a flipping ribbon. So from where I stand now, on my little 40 plus mountain I’d say this, I’m not who I used to be, not in totality, not by a long shot, but I’d like to think I possess her best possible assets: her warmth, her smile, her flashes of strength and courage, her ability to sit back and see the humour in life. Have I become more fearful? Of course, I have a kid, fear is an occupational hazard of parenting. Have I learned from her total screw-ups? For certain, but I’m sure I still make many. Have I regretted the pedal to the metal attitude I used to have? In some ways yes, but in some ways, a little bit of that freewheeling youthful person I was, I’d like to think still lives inside of me (hell, I wore shorts the other day when it was only forecasted to be 16 degrees (C not F), I'm a rebel damn it!).
So for no reason other than I goaded you into it, give yourself a little praise today for making it to where you are. After all, it’s a long journey, not a single sprint, and we all deserve a pat on the back.