“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle, New York Times (1985) …
I have certainly felt what Madeleine is talking about here–as I continue to grow older, I still feel a strong connection with the child I was at five, the teen I was in high school, and the young adult I was after graduation. And although those other people that I have been are definitely not the person I know now, I still recognize them and understand them, and I feel an inexplicable connection with them; as if even though I was the one passing through those ages of my life, they are completely different people than me, yet remain necessary pieces of the whole that I am right now.
Some individuals would like to forget the past, to leave behind the persons that they once were, or deny they even existed. To a certain extent, there is value in doing so and staying focused on who we are and what is happening in our lives right now, and yet, even if there are persons that we are not proud of from our past, or would like to forget or deny having existed, they are integral to the composition of who we are now–our past experiences hold innumerable riches that, if we allow them to, can be of great benefit for us.
So much of who we are now is a result of who we once were–from all the people we have been in the past and the decisions that we made at different points in our lives. The six-year-old me running through the sprinkler and playing on the hay bales; the 13-year-old me experiencing the joy and the agony of crushes and infatuations; the 21-year-old me who had mixed up priorities in life; the 24-year-old me who found the satisfaction of graduating college and moving on to a new city; and the 27-year-old me who got married and started a family. All the “other ages I have been” are a part of me. But do I appreciate, understand, and make use of those pieces of my puzzle, or are they things that I have forgotten, or perhaps even lost and make no effort to remember?
Take some time to reflect on all of the distinct chapters in your life.
Questions to consider:
Why do we so often think that our pasts are not useful or important to us today?
What are some of your most positive experiences at each of the different ages that you have lived through?
How might you get in touch with the ages that you have been without losing touch with the person that you are?
For further thought:
“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Abraham Sutzkever