It’s funny, you know the interest we take in how old we are. Our passage through this life is marked with wayposts, usually the anniversary of our entry into the world. The candles on the cake increase and the jokes get older, but it’s still us underneath it all, despite developing more of a lived-in look. The experts tell us that we’re really only a maximum of eight years old. That’s the age of the oldest cells in our body. How do they remember who we are? A bunch of cells agreeing to hang around together and try to make some sense of it all in eight years. Then, pop! Another cell goes, another takes it’s place and we move on.
Where were you eight years ago? What hope and fears did you have? Were there any golden memories you still carry close to your heart? For me it was the realization that we had to get out of London and to a more rural location to have any real meaningful quality of life as a family.
Think about Joseph from the Bible (he of the multicoloured coat). What changes he saw in his lifetime – youth (lacking some social skills), prisoner, seer, trustee, leader, king’s righthand man, forgiver…. think how many roles he played, and how much he grew as a person with each step. All those changes.
If you read some of those life coaching books, one of the exercises they ask you to carry out is to ask yourself the question – Where would you like to be in eight years time? I personally find the assumptions those kind of questions ask a bit far-fetched. Our lives are not that stable, are they? Do we really have that much control over them?
My own view, for what it’s worth is not original, but it’s worth thinking about. It’s called ‘present nostalgia’. Here’s an excerpt from Elisha Goldstein’s book ‘The Now Effect’:
‘Imagine yourself many years from now looking back onto your younger self in this moment. What is it about this time that is precious? What’s here that may not be here later on? What advice might that older and perhaps wiser self have for you? Is there something in your life that is precious that you could intentionally pay more attention to?’
Maybe it’s not just about planning for the future, or marking the increase of our past, but appreciating the present minute and giving thanks for it.