I am not one to reread a book. Once I am done reading it I tend not to pick it up again. These days I am lucky if I even finish the book I am reading. Unlike books though I have moments where I “reread” my past. I tend to get caught up in these moments of reflection at transformative times in my life. It is at these times that I think back, observe differences in myself, ponder the choices I made and wonder what my life would look like had some choices been made differently or had some thoughts become different actions.
I used to do a lot of “should” thinking. I “should do this” or “I should do that”. and when reflecting back it would look like, “I should have done this or I should have done that”. A very wise person, my mom, once told me, “Hunny, ‘shoulding’ on yourself s like shitting on yourself“. Ew! was my first thought after hearing that, but she is right. There is no point in”shoulding”. We continuously make decisions and of course our decisions affect the journey of our lives. If different decisions were made in the past then our present realities would indeed look different, but we made the decisions that we made and things look the way they do. The concept of “should” is a created one if you ask me.
In truth there are no “shoulds” or “should nots” there are only decisions, choices that we make. While I may wonder how my life may have turned out if I had chosen a different path I do not want to change anything. It is because of the decisions that I made in the past that I am who I am today. Not all decisions were easy or even good for that matter, but each decision brought something to my life, whether it be a lesson, a memory or a chance to grow. This does not mean that I have always made the best decisions, to be honest I have not. To that, the same very wise person, my mom, said to me, “Em, there are no mistakes in life as long as we choice to learn something from our actions. What are called mistakes (or bad decisions) then become lessons.” Again, I believe that she is right.
As mentioned in previous posts, the transformation that is approaching in my life is my start at a new job and my upcoming move to Germany. Just a few years ago I would have never envisioned myself planning for such a move or starting such a new job. When I look back, there are a few moments in my life that I feel like someone else must have been inhabiting my body because the choices I made are not ones I would make now. Without those choices though, be they painful, potentially dangerous, daring, risky, overly trusting etc. they brought me to where I am today. When I hit a “bump in the road” I chose to stand back up, keep going, and to learn from it. From that I have learned a great deal. I may be only 22 but trust me I had a lifetime of experiences already.
Remembering that we all have our own unique story… My personal life story involves more challenges than may be in another person’s. It also includes more joys, wealth, love, laughter and adventure than may be in another’s. My personal life story may include less of all these when compared to another as well.
Yesterday, in preparation for my move I was going through items of mine that are in storage from a previous move. In the boxes I found pictures, lots of them actually. Many of the framed photos that I found were taken in Maine, the place that I call “a little piece of heaven”. Looking at the photos brought tears to my eyes. My brothers, sisters, cousins and friends are in the pictures. We were all so young then. Back in “the good old days” as kids, things seemed easier. We were concerned about playing games, making restaurants, going swimming and hiking, watching airplanes take off at the local airport and picking blueberries. I looked at myself, a much younger girl then in the pictures and I saw such happiness. That happiness fills me today, it has matured though I think. As the tough situations in my life taught me to be stronger than I ever thought possible. The love in my life taught me to share love in ways I never could have imagined. Now, internationally engaged… preparing for an international move, I hope that I am making the young me proud.
Looking at the photo, seeing a childish reflection of myself, I imagined what, Em, my younger self, would say to me. Here’s what I think she would say, “Why do you stress so much? Don’t you see that things always work out in one way or another?” ~”Keep smiling, it looks really good on you”
Who knows if the younger me, would really say that. But I know that it is a good reminder and the innocent smile I saw looking back at me in the pictures reminded me that life is too short for all the stress that I let in. Life is too short for all the worries. Life is just the right length of time to smile often, love much, hug a lot, laugh too much and trust your heart to lead you to a life of sheer happiness.
At the end of “rereading my past” yesterday, I found myself smiling from ear to ear. My past is an imperfectly perfect one, it is my story and I would not trade it with anyone. I was once told that the past should remain in the past. Like how I read a book, I was advised to never “reopen” it. I see no harm in revisiting the past. It holds beautiful memories filled with great people and places. Even the tough moments can be good to remember, serving as a testimony to how strong I am and to much I am capable of accomplishing.
My dad, another wise person in my life, once gave me what looks like a simple coin. Yesterday, while rummaging through things I found it. A circular coin with a tree engraved in the middle, in the tree lies a single mustard seed and around the tree the words “If ye have Faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matt. 17:20 KJV. A simple yet profound statement inscribed on the coin serves as a reminder to me that anything I dream up may be possible if I choose to create it. Moments, while rare, that provide me the space to “reread” my past are comforting and heartwarming. I am not saying they are always easy moments, but our past is a part of us. I invite you to have Faith. I invite you to take a moment and “reread” your past. I am always surprised at how much I have accomplished in my short life, you might be as well. Peace.