A commonly used literary device is to imagine sitting down with your younger self to offer up some advice on ways to achieve a rich and fulfilling life. Since I’m fast approaching my 72ndbirthday, I decided the time’s come to explore this thought experiment and see if I can impart some wisdom upon an earlier version of me.
I imagine that I’m Tyra – a “classic” model version 7.2 – seated comfortably across a table from Tyra, version 1.6. It’s clear by watching her that her operating system is screaming fast and quick to boot up, but I’m comforted in the knowledge that while slower to process, my older CPU has been well serviced over my lifetime, helping me to overcome occasional system crashes, genetic glitches and general wear and tear, resulting in my older, and presumably upgraded self.
So, this is what I’d tell her:
Don’t assume life goes on forever. The fact is that it flies by and it’s fragile. In my own life, I could never have contemplated how many times I would skirt dangerously close to that edge from which there’s no return: eclampsia in childbirth, bulimia and cutting, a head-on car crash with fatalities, major heart surgery and cancer.
Tell those around you — your parents, siblings, friends, lovers, spouse or children or even pets – that you love them as often as you can. I lost my father as a young girl, and over the course of my seven decades have said goodbye to many and wished that I’d religiously followed this piece of advice.
Don’t be a bystander, waiting for life to happen. Be an active driver in pursuing your dreams.
Always listen to your intuition,that still, small voice that guides you in all things. By following that voice, I’ve taken action to sustain my health when doctors said I was fine. I’ve also moved on from relationships or situations that were not healthy for my soul.
Take life one day at a time rather than always rushing about in pursuit of your immediate goal. Stop frequently to smell the roses, enjoy the rainbow, listen to the song “Over the Rainbow” or simply watch the clouds.
Never let failure get you down. Over the course of your life, failure will be your greatest teacher. Look for a learning opportunity in every bad situation.
Write things down. You’ll be amazed how many great stories you’ve already experienced and can capture and embellish as a means of connecting with others.
Always be grateful. Gratitude leads to happiness and wellbeing.
Pursue your passions. Enrich your soul by embracing writing, dancing, painting, sculpting, photography or other creative activities that spark your passion and help you connect to others.
Remember that you aren’t alone in your struggles and that help is available. My experience in overcoming Clinical Depression and addiction has made me a stronger person, but it wasn’t without a great deal of help and support from caregivers and loved ones.
This 72nd birthday feels like a magnificent gift and I’m empowered by the knowledge that I have so much more to accomplish. I’m also heartened to know that my younger self has an exciting and wonderful journey ahead that will take her life in directions she’d never imagined!
© Tyra Manning 2019