things gone by to come

Writing Prompt: Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

I look across the table at my 10-years-ago self, wondering what she is thinking. Does she know what is ahead for her? Will she accept it? Will she embrace her future and make the best of it? She sips her coffee, places the cup in the saucer and waits for me to speak. I lift my cup, hold it to my lips, then without drinking, place it back onto the saucer. I look at her, her eyes wide, locks growing in and an eager but unsure smile on her face. She waits.

I begin.

“Your life will be filled with many amazing experiences. You will fall in love and your babies will no longer be babies. The most challenging aspect of your life will be your spiritual journey. You will find it difficult to understand why you are here. With each passing day, you’ll realize that you are merely in this world, but not of it. Adjusting will grow increasingly challenging, because you won’t want to be here amongst the violence and racism and greed and ignorance. You’ll want to dissolve into another world where the beings know how to love. But you won’t dissolve. And eventually, it will be ok. You’ll learn how to navigate the madness and dissolve into spirit, while keeping one foot in this insane world. It will strengthen you and give you the tools to help others find their path.”

My past self looked at me with sad eyes, realizing the truth of my words. She looked off into the distance, as though already seeing a future she couldn’t see before.

“Your spiritual journey will take you to many dark places, but a great love will bring you back from the precipice. He will give you a reason to smile each day. He will love you with a depth that you never imagined. He will give you companionship so that you are not alone in your thoughts, because he will understand. He too sees the madness of the world and fearlessly faces it. He will give you strength and help you to realize that you are not crazy, and there is still something here to fight for. He will keep you from sitting outside on the grass, looking up at the sky, waiting to be picked up by a species whose purpose is peace and understanding and love and kindness. He will ground you here, where your journey must be lived. And you will love him for it. Because when you still need to sit on the grass and wait, he will wait with you. You will hope for a better world together. Or hope for something to intervene to take you to a better world. Or hope for truly loving gods to manifest in a world that is seemingly godless.”

A light wind blew between us. My past self sat motionless. It seemed as though minutes passed between her blinks.

“Through everything, you will laugh and find genuine joy. You will jump double dutch in your living room with your daughter. You will explore caves in the mid-west. You will relearn the pleasure of a childhood fruit, Jackfruit, from your island home, Jamaica. You will make love so passionately that everything around you disappears in the moment. You will watch your daughters grow, day by day, into beautiful women with their own hopes and dreams for the future. You will plant food and eat from your own garden. You will cry for the death of your loved ones. You will play in the snow and dance in the rain. You will lay on the porch on a blanket with your lover and watch the stars. You will remember the bad times, but let the good times rule your future. You will look in the mirror, see gray hairs growing in, and smile at the fact that you lived this long—so many didn’t make it this far. In the end, you will realize that even though you don’t like many aspects of this culture, you love this world and the beauty it is filled with. You will feel glad to be here, in this moment in time. Because there will never be another moment like this one. You will look back and remember how bravely you survived the drama and how fiercely you loved. You will remember a life well lived.”

My past self opened her mouth to speak.

“Before you speak, you need to know one final thing. The most fun thing you have to look forward to is your imagination. You are filled with ideas, and each day you unfold a new idea born from your imagination. Your imagination thrills you and injects you with new life each time you share a new thought. Never let that die. At the end of the day, your imagination is what sustains you in this realm. It will become your raison d’etre. Guard it with everything in you and share it only with those who can appreciate it without chastising it. It is your imagination and your life. Let it run wild and free.”

My past self stared at me in silence. I wondered what she wanted to say, but then realized that I was looking at myself. I knew that my past self had nothing to say. I was satisfied with the gift I’d been given. My future lies ahead of me, in a place that neither my past self nor I can imagine. We are both now embarking on a journey into undiscovered country. We will make it to wherever it is we need to be.

my past self


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