Future Self

Twenty years ago a beautiful blonde man was sitting in my bed, I thought he was getting ready to share his life with me, but no, that snowy morning in the cozy bedroom on Cambridge Street, he broke up with me. Out of the blue. I thought our aesthetic and academic compatibilities were foundation enough for a long brilliant love story but we weren’t reading the same book.

Even old German cigarette ads are in love with the future.

This past spring a lovely fair man was sitting in my bed drinking coffee with me, as we often did in my little house. I knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together, our lifestyle and outdoorsy compatibility was so splendid. I could see us growing old together, going on long walks, living in a west coast city but no. Again, out of the blue, on a cloudy morning, no snow, my heart was broken and my future dreams shattered. He broke up with me. There is a story here, two of my houses, two lovely ectomorphs who couldn’t stay, two cold mornings, two cozy mornings, twenty years difference but I haven’t figured out the puzzle pieces yet.

Washington DC – art I guess.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time in my life planning my future, dreaming my future, sketching out calendars and imagining parties and voyages. It can be pleasant to spin out castles in the air, Peru as the French say, rainbow dreams of those days when it will all make sense, never be lonely, and someone will always be kindly holding my hand while we eat delicious food. However, who is that person, what version of me, who will be there? Who will we be? This year, 2020, I would like to think less about future conditions and more about the future self I would like to grow into and a future world I would like to damage less.

Will I be as stalwart as this French peasant?

We need to immediately be more aware of how our current actions are sucking the life blood, the clean water, the phosphorus, the good living out of our collective global future but sometimes thinking about this as a whole is just too huge for me.

Or maybe I will hang out at the public library and read the newspaper with my stellar mustache.

A long time ago I read a yoga text, probably Yoga Samachar, about how much responsibility we have physically and otherwise towards our future self. If I can no longer walk, who will carry me? If I can no longer enjoy the world, who will listen to my raging? I think about this a lot when I go running. I want to be able to catch a bus when I’m 80 and stand on my head enough to feel powerful. The way we live in our bodies today definitively affects our future experiences. As BKS Iyengar put it so succinctly, future pain can and should be avoided. We are often the creators of our own future suffering so this year I would like to think about laying a physical, emotional and mental foundation within myself that can hold. The future world may hand me more heartbreak, or living conditions that are tiresome, or political leaders who know nothing of love but maybe today I can do something so that my future self still enjoys writing, has some hip flexibility and some stamina and a little money left in the bank.

A broken body from the vast Toulouse cemetery.

I just visited my almost 80 year old motorcycle riding headstanding godmother and got a nice reminder about aging as a mindset. She carries a little timer that goes off every hour to remind her to take a few breaths and say thank you. We can be in the world as we decide to be, even when the world is not all rainbows and swing sets.

A groovy guy on Instagram (@heartist.bill) wrote: Liberation is awareness in the present, which is nothing more than the future becoming the past. I asked him to explain and he talked about time like a river but we get to choose whether we drift, step in or out, or try to stand and watch.

May Sarton envisioned writing itself as a practice, as a missive, to our future selves. In her book on solitude she writes: “So perhaps we write toward what we will become from where we are.” I love this thought. I have spent the last few decades trying to take better care of my inner child and soothe the wounds of my past but now it seems time to greet the older self, out there, wiser, calmer, stiffer, and maybe wilder than anything I have yet known.

What if in another 20 years I am sitting in another cozy bed with a new lovely one, I’m guessing this time I will imagine that we are spiritually aligned, and all is well and then he says he’s breaking up with me? Out of the blue.

I think I will be ready to laugh. And you can all laugh at or with me too! Happy New Year.

Very old tractor, middle-aged handstander, and the next generation on a bike.

1 thought on “Future Self”

  1. I too write to profess the future— myself and others— and that helps mark the passage of time. I often read my past selves’ confessions to gain perspective on who I have been and who I am becoming, that miracle achievement only those who leave there thoughts alive out here in space can supply. I am heartened by the idea that I will one day be a much wiser, much sturdier incarnation of self. But at times I doubt that I will change at all— I have been the same person throughout it all, no rough winds have hewn some strange meat from my metal. I am the ore at the center of this crucible that time will not, not ever smelt.

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