Reflection on the Road Ahead, Words for My Future Self
Like most everyone on this site and everywhere, I'd like the New Year to be better than the old, and especially in my case, for the developing version of me to be better than the one to date.
The first thing I would point out to my newer self is that there are no shortcuts in life, only detours. Sometimes they get us where we want to be going faster than otherwise, but more often than not they take us places we would rather not go. Not necessarily where we should not go, but where our hidden self is more easily exposed.
Though I would not call myself Christian, I am reminded of the Book of John in the Bible: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." I need constant reminding of that; it's so easy in looking back and looking ahead to deny or overlook my role in leading to where I am today. In my personal case it is easy, for reasons not necessary to state, to claim victimhood, to point to the actions or inactions of others. But the truth is harder than that. I contributed much, often by seeking shortcuts. Something I have to acknowledge if I am to make real changes, and, yes, I think changes are necessary.
And a related truth, oh self-to-be in this next year, the uncomfortable and even dangerous things that lie ahead, or that have been suppressed thus far, will not be forever avoided. At some point one must take the step, face the fact, do what must be done. The longer you avoid, the worse it is likely to be. How many times - times beyond my counting -- I have tried to hide or evade, only to have it flare up uncontrollably. To quote the Tao Te Ching:
"If one waits until the affair has begun, Then the situation is as brittle as ice that easily cracks and is fragile that easily shatters. Take actions before things occur. Manage before things get out of order."
I do find I have one blessing thus far: I still seem to have time. I am not yet Whitman's old man who "sees that he has lived a life without purpose and feels it with a bitterness worse than gall." My future self, don't lose track of this -- we still have time to find that purpose. But not a lot. Though I suspect that in seeking alone there is purpose enough. Have courage.
I've already written too much. To cite the Tao Te Ching one last time:
"Many words lead to exhaustion. It is better to center on the true essence within."
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