My younger self is nineteen, she lives on a small Greek Island called Aegina with her best-friend. And her boyfriend. And her best friend’s boyfriend. Sometimes she wishes it was just her and her best friend.
Her family are back in London. She is tanned and skinny and not very interested in food, except for when she’s hungry. She daydreams a lot. She believes that people are good. She worries about the hole in the ozone layer and has campaigned against CFCs.
She’s undergone surgery on her hips many times. At sixteen she was told by a psychic at a circus,
“Your disability will never take you off your feet.”
She has carried that with her and will go on to carry that with her for all her life. It doesn’t always need to be the right person. She just needed to hear the right thing, at the right time. And hearing that thing planted a belief system in her soul like a rod of steel through her spine.
My younger self spent two summers on that Greek Island.
I left part of her there, sitting on the dock, in the sunshine, staring at the ocean, the morning sun on her face, completely comfortable and at peace. It’s that part of me that I always reach for when I need to feel steady.
I’m fifty now and once a week I attend the Hoi An Writers Group. Kerstin leads a five minute mediation. Then just before we come out of the meditation she gives us a writing prompt.
It’s usually at this point that I reach my hand down inside myself and my younger self is always there to reach up and clasp it.
She sits on the dock of the bay on my favourite Greek island.
She is warmed by the stone underneath her, her legs are dangling over the side of the dock twelve feet above water. Boats are bobbing nearby. That young contented girl that I never left behind always greets me when I’m meditating. She’s wiser than her years, as wise as I am now.
She looks different today. There are crinkles around her eyes, she’s growing up.
“What’s happening?” I ask.
“Just for today I am you and you are me. You’re the younger one for a while and I am the wise one.”
“And what wisdom do you have for me?”
“Be here now.” She says as we both look out across the Greek ocean and the Vietnamese one, thirty-one years and eight-thousand miles apart. “Be here now.”
Then she turns to me and says, “And you? Do you have any advice for me?”
She looks young again, our places are flipping, I’m going back to being the Mum that I am in real life. Since becoming a mother I seem to end up in the role of mother to everyone I meet, even women older than my mother.
So I say to my younger self;
“I am still you, you are not yet me. I’m not sure what advice I can give you, without changing me – my now self.
Any advice I give you may kill me. The me that I have grown to be through the trials and tribulations you will go through.
I already know you will make it, that all your wishes will come true, so why change anything?
If anything the me in the present, in the meditation state needs to tell the present me something.
You are not your younger self, your now self, or your older self. Instead, you are a soul that resides in the middle of your physical body, in this world that you have chosen. The world you have chosen places much attention on physical appearance. In this land of Em, Chi, Ba and Co (Vietnamese for, Sister, Aunty, Elder One, Teacher), you must remember that these categories are only an indicator of your physical body. You are a being and you are free to do as you like and to be who you are, without being tethered by what is or isn’t appropriate for your age. You will do the right thing anyway. So don’t let these concepts get in the way of your fun!
I’m sorry younger self. You will sometimes be in great pain and it will be hard. But you will also dance on tables, your hands in the air, your friends beside you and you will have a brilliant and beautiful time to make up for the tough times.
And if being here now is all we have, then let’s do that. Let’s bathe in the sunshine or shiver in the rain. Let’s listen to our friends as they laugh or cry. Let’s hold our loved ones close and breathe them in. Let’s be here now, it’s all we can do and it is enough.
There is great love here for you.
Photo credit @writeyourjourney