It’s a new year: a time for new beginnings, and new seasons of my favourite TV shows! I have some life goals in progress right now, so rather than set resolutions for the future, I thought I’d look to the past for inspiration.
Six years ago, I’d recently come home from my first long trip. I had spent 13 months working and travelling in Australia and then visiting Southeast Asia. I was having trouble adjusting to being home, and I desperately wanted to write about travel so that I could continue to feel immersed in it. The letter that I came up with is the closest I’ve ever come to time travel; I ended up writing a letter to myself in the future! Some of it makes me cringe, but I’m going to include it anyway, in the interest of vulnerability (with minor edits for comprehension):
January 18, 2010
Dear Future Self,
Your past self was a bit of a snob. She didn’t think highly of all aspects of her personality, but she considered herself very adaptable and highly intuitive. She thought, in her clichéd way, that she was most comfortable outside her comfort zone. But that was her high; she had a desire to absorb the way that other people lived.
She had destinations taped to her walls forever and her life began when she first took off. She did feel the stuff you hear about. It was always nice to get a fresh look at her own life and its infinite luxuries. It was a healthy and hypocritically selfish feeling, knowing that she wasn’t indifferent.
But she wasn’t different! She thought she often travelled in a unique way. Can you believe it!? [EDIT: Makes me cringe now! Who cares how you travel?! One style of adventure is no less valid than another.]
She was lonely. Sometimes she confused loneliness with independence. She was comfortable, in a safe way, but she knew she could be happier. If only she knew how to bridge the gap between her reals and ideals. Maybe you know.
However, she valued perspective above almost everything else. She’d come home realizing that there was an aspect of ‘finding oneself’ that came from separating herself from the external things that maintained continuity in her life; links between past and present that ‘defined’ her in a rigid way. She realized that she could provide this continuity for herself.
I hope you haven’t forgotten the importance of perspective. I hope that you’ve been consistent enough with new experiences that the bubble you live in continues to expand. I’m sure you’re still aware that the bubble will never pop – never imagine that everything your world contains represents everything the world contains.
But here I am giving advice to the one person from whom I would most like guidance.
Well, Future Self, I hope you picked the world. I hope you didn’t settle. I hope you were honest. I hope you don’t belittle Past Self too much and, to be honest, I hope you haven’t changed much. She wanted the world. I hope you want the world.
January 18, 2010