“…I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” – Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
I have dozens of notebooks filled with the strings of words my mind produced over the years for many different reasons. Sometimes I flip through a randomly selected notebook and randomly select and read a page of words and I am truly surprised that I wrote it. Sometimes, I don’t remember the text itself or the full details of the context in which I wrote it or both. At other times, I am transported back to the very moment in which I wrote it with a burst of memory and emotion. At other times it just feels so new yet so familiar at the same time that I am convinced that maybe, just maybe, I wrote to my future self because I knew I would need to read those words just as they are again some day. Below is one such love letter to myself written in 2015. Ironically, I just rewatched Elementary Season 2 through yet another series of sleepless nights. Perhaps because I am trying to answer many of the same questions I had for myself then? Maybe because I am going through another crisis of the self? Maybe because I have so many questions about how to be good at parenting when I have never been one? Maybe because I have questions about how to manage to be everything I need to be to everyone who needs me: my baby (whose arrival is officially imminent), my husband, my friends, my family, my career and myself.
“I have been going through a minor crisis of self. A period of questioning the pattern I have fallen into. While engaging in a debate with two of my closest friends yesterday, one of them said something that struck a chord in me. “You are the only person you can control.” In the context of our conversation, we didn’t agree but the truth of this statement extends far beyond that conversation we were having. It is universal.
I couldn’t sleep last night so I watched the ceiling while I listened to Elementary Season 2 playing in the background for a full 7 hours. Amazing, how much reflection can take place in 7 hours.
I asked myself who I am now. Am I proud of the person I am now? How did I become this person? Am I proud of this person? How can I do better? How can I be of value to the universe? Does my laughter still bubble uncontrollably from my throat? Am I happy? Am I true? Am I trustworthy? Am I the best version of me I can be? Am I a good friend to others? Am I a good friend to myself? Am I a valuable asset to my employer? Am I a good woman to my man? Do I inspire respect? Do I inspire fear? Do I inspire indifference? Do I inspire at all? Do children still come to me like I’m the pied piper (how children react to you is very telling)? Do I remember how to smile with an open heart? Do I remember how to love with my whole being?
So many questions that are so difficult to answer. If I am being honest, I am afraid to disappoint myself with some of the answers. Regardless, I came to a few realisations.
I realised that self improvement is a daily process. The minute you stop is the minute you cease to be the best you can be at life.
I realised that my happiness is a daily priority. I can not give others joy I do not have.
I realised that God is everything. That prayer changes everything. That distance from God manifests in shortcomings in life.
I realised that love is gift that we so easily take for granted. That to love life, love, family and friends is a decision that must be made daily. They must know how much they mean to me. I must especially consciously love my person for familiarity often results in forgetting how precious what we have is. Familiarity, left to run unattended, breeds contempt.
More than anything I realised that I must try. Everyday I must try. The universe owes me nothing. I owe it a duty to add value to the lives of everyone who is a part of my life. I must just try.
As if to confirm all this, a random google search brought me to this extract of “Your forces and How to Use Them.”
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
― Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them