A chance encounter with 30-years-ago-me
The other morning Krista Tippet (in my ears) and I were walking my dogs. We were on the last leg of our walk when we passed a woman walking to the train. I thought, “Gosh, that looks just like 30-years-ago me!”
And she did. It was uncanny. Swinging ponytail, classic sleeveless summer sheath, sneakers for the walk, bag slung over one shoulder. In a flash I was no longer listening to Krista and her guest. I was lost in remembering.
I remembered feeling so professional and grown-up in my dress. I remembered how I excited my first real job made me. I remembered how I loved going to work in the city.
While I recognized her, 30-years-ago-me would not have recognized me
Then I thought, “30-years-ago me had no idea that ‘on the way’ would bring her here. She could never dream of this.” And, because, for those few moments I really, viscerally remembered being 25, I knew I was right.
25-year-old me never dreamed of a day that I’d be walking my two dogs through a lovely tree-filled neighborhood in southeastern Pennsylvania as the sun came up. I never dreamed of a time when my imaginary children (3 of them, not 4) would all be in their twenties and “on their own ways.” I never dreamed I would open and close my own business. I never dreamed I’d teach at a college – especially not yoga philosophy. (“What even IS that?” I can hear her thinking.)
In short, while I recognized 30-years-ago me, she never would have recognized me. And this realization is exciting – thrilling even. I appreciate (from the depths of my heart) the reminder that I truly have no idea what life has in store for 60- or 65- or 85-year-old me. 30 years later, my horizon remains as filled with possibility as it did then.
Life will be no less surprising for my kids (and yours)
Better yet, this encounter with my 25-year-old-self reminds me that I have no idea what crazy twists and turns lie in store for my twenty-something adult children. Even with all the “wisdom” gained from many, many years on the planet, I cannot predict what jobs, relationships, degrees, heartbreaks, and joys they will navigate. After all, if I couldn’t (and still can’t) do this for myself how could I possibly do this for someone else?
Staying firmly grounded in the present is the best (perhaps only) way to relish life
“It’s best,” I thought (like someone who really, truly buys into yoga philosophy), “to stay right here in this moment.” Before you roll your eyes, I assure you that, though this is something that sounds like a Hallmark card, it is an actual life skill that requires a shocking amount of practice.
Right here and right now are good places to be, but there is something in most of us (our brains) that has a hard time settling into the spaciousness and stillness of here and now. Given free rein, my mind will almost always dash ahead into next week, next month, next year, next … After all, if I dash ahead, I will be better prepared for what is coming. Also, if I dash ahead, I can help my kids to be better prepared.
Dashing ahead to the future is exhausting and doesn’t work anyways
Dashing ahead is exhausting. It also mostly doesn’t work. More importantly, it means that, because I’m so engaged with a fictitious future (mine or my kids’), I am decidedly not engaged with what is happening right now. And that is sad because this is the only now that any of us get.
Given that, I’d like to be more like my 25-year-old self. I want to feel so great about my clothes and stage of life that it puts a spring in my step. I want to love my whole life – even something as simple as my commute to work. I choose to feel now as I did then – optimistic and excited to be on my way.
And I choose to feel this same way about my kids – yet another thing that 30-years-ago-me could never imagine. (To be honest, it took running into her on my walk to remind me of this gift of being a mother.) Being mindful and present in the now doesn’t just apply to me and my life. It also allows me to be filled with hopeful curiosity about what is happening for my kids. And (in the alchemy of motherhood) that resulting optimism and excitement dwarfs any I feel for myself – which really gets my ponytail swinging!
Interested in practices that develop an ability to stay present, mindful, and hopeful in your own life? Let’s talk – about yoga, breathwork, and meditation. And stay tuned for my course on practice coming this fall.