Thursday, August 19, 2010

Letter to Me

We are probably due for another Mary Anne Radmacher inspired post, right? If you are new to my blog, I am a bit of obsessed with her book, Lean Forward Into Your Life.

In the book, Mary Anne (see how we are on first name basis? I am sure we'd be bff if she actually knew me...) shares a letter that she writes to herself. She pretends to be the seventy-eight version of herself, and writes a letter to her younger self:

As I look upon you it is almost as if I have become an unconventional English woman and I see you as a brash American woman. So impatient. I know you don't see yourself as impatient and that's actually one of your troubles. The depth of your impatience reaches to the questions you ask of me. "When am I going to learn?" The answer is a contradiction. Always. Never. If you life song wasn't the same song, umpteenth verse - you'd be insane or dead. You can't have the breadth of every one's life lessons - just the panorama of your own. It's not that you keep making the same mistake... you are participating in versions of the same structures. Your impatience keeps them coming.

"What? You again?" Do you then stamp your feet or slam the door? You will learn the difference which patience makes. Rather than greeting those redundancies with dread - you welcome them as old friends and ask them to teach you what they can. You really must become more courteous (invite them in) and patient (learn from them - don't hurry to send them away). As it is now, you want to be all over the map. Everywhere at once. Accomplishing. Achieving. Perfecting. Inventing. Inspiring. In case you haven't noticed, you are tired. You simply need to stop working so hard. Walking so fast. Your impatience to taste everything keeps you from tasting anything.

So. Yes. You do learn. And you will learn by embracing paradox. In unlearning you learn. In slowing down you fly. In welcoming trouble you see those troubles less often. Allow the events of your life to not make sense. That is the only way they can ever make sense.

You ask if I am happy. So I will tell you. No. I am not happy. I see the world too clearly to be happy. But I am content. And I think that is a better thing.

Be kind to yourself. Stop waiting to grow up: you never will. You only grow and that's a more vital process that "growing up." I love you, Mary Anne.


Lately, certainly elements leave me feeling like my life is a bit of a "broken record"; it's the same song and dance, over and over. I'm not loving the track that I am stuck on but I can't seem to re-set the needle. So this letter really resonated since she mentions how you sometimes have to invite troubles in to truly learn from them and move forward.

I love this idea of putting yourself in the future and writing a letter to your present self. I think back on how critical I was of my younger self and wish I could go back and be a bit more accepting; however, I am still quite critical of my present self so I am sure the 78 year old version of me would tell me to stop being so critical... to stop thinking I need to have all the answers, right at this moment... I'd tell myself to treat myself as I would a best friend - to choose kindness over criticism. To believe in myself rather than berate myself. I think the older version of myself would tell me to stop worrying about what the future holds as worrying accomplishes nothing. Instead, she'd tell me to enjoy the journey.

What do you think the older version of you would write in a letter to your present self?

14 comments:

Charbelle said...

This was so good!!! Will you send me the book information? I always enjoy these posts!!
You're right be kinder to yourself and less critical and you certainly don't always have to have all the answers :) Although that's certainly what we would prefer!!

Emily Jane said...

What a fabulous idea! I'm going to have to look into this book. It'll be interesting for her to read, though, when she is actually a 78 year old woman :)

"So this letter really resonated since she mentions how you sometimes have to invite troubles in to truly learn from them and move forward."

So very, VERY true. Great post!!

Mandy said...

I LOVE this. And I really needed to read it this morning. Parts of it made me tear up, because of how relevant they are to my current situation. Especially these parts.

"So. Yes. You do learn. And you will learn by embracing paradox. In unlearning you learn. In slowing down you fly. In welcoming trouble you see those troubles less often. Allow the events of your life to not make sense. That is the only way they can ever make sense."

and

"Be kind to yourself. Stop waiting to grow up: you never will. You only grow and that's a more vital process that "growing up." I love you."

Nora said...

Sometimes I wonder if we ever really know or have all the answers, even if we are older. I watch my gram go through life now, as a single older woman and it seems that she faces just as much uncertainty and wonder as I do. Life really does come full circle; it terrifies me at times to think that I won't be able to have all the answers and know what the heck is going on with my life, but I guess I ought to just enjoy the ride :)

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I kind of agree with Nora's comment. We are never going to have all the answers, no matter how old we are (I think). I think we'll look back on our lives and see things more clearly than we did when we were experiencing them. But there will still be uncertainty ahead.

I am trying *so* hard to enjoy the JOURNEY more and be present. I tend to "look into the future" and become a worrywart as well. It's silly to worry about things that haven't happened yet - that's what my mom always tells me :)

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I think an older version of myself would tell me to relax, not worry so much,and to enjoy the ride :-)

Abby said...

I think I need to purchase this book. It's so profound. I feel like every woman can find something in her writings and relate it to their life.

You do need to be kinder to yourself. I know that is much easier said than done. Trust me, I'm very guilty of having the same problem.

But you really are a wonderful woman. I look up to you so much! Always have and always will.

I think the older me would write a letter to me and tell me to enjoy life a little - and just try to enjoy the process of things instead of focusing so much on the future.

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Isn't it funny that almost everyone would tell themselves to be less critical? and yet we never really stop do we? Maybe at 78 though!

I definitely would tell my younger self to worry less about what I "should" be doing and just do what I want...however I'm not sure what I'd tell myself now... I don't have it all figured out though thats for sure!

Cherry Blossoms said...

First this is an amazing post. I think I need this book as there is much truth being said here. I'm sure my older self would once again remind me nothing is perfect in life, God never let's you down even if it feels that at time, and to never forget the small things in life.

Paul said...

I am the older version of myself.

Stephany said...

I really love this idea and it makes me imagine what I'll be like at 78. I wonder if I'll still be a worrywart, so concerned for the future. I wonder if I'll be more relaxed about myself and more at peace with who I am.

It does make me pause and think about my life and why I worry so much about the future. I need to be more focused on the present and enjoying where I am now, not so worried about what the future may hold.

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

I love this idea :) And I might have to buy this book!

Lisa-Marie said...

Hopefully mine would say

"see, we did have children after all, and aren't you glad you are nice to people, look how many friends we have"

Sassy Molassy said...

My younger self should have written. Jump! LEAP! Do it now before you get too scared. It's time to push yourself out of the nest and do what scares you most. Don't let your fears define what you are capable of. End of story.

Bottom line is: I'm still scared, still in the nest. Needing to leap.