What I would tell my younger self if I could
Time contracts and shrinks the older I get. When I was young, an ocean of time extended before me, its horizon was very far off; but as I step into the final chapter in life, time appears to be more of a smallish lake with well-defined boundaries. What with environmental changes and global warming, every year, the water becomes shallower and its once brilliant waters become murkier.
Common wisdom would have it that as we get older, we should wind down and take it easy. We should go slower and pace ourselves. I find that thought terrifying. There is still so much to do, so much to learn, so many places to visit. Every evening, I am faced with the perplexing thought of: Where did the time go? Every morning, I resolve to make better use of the precious hours of the day. This dual problem of needing to make good use of what time I have left and feeling that there is not enough of it in a day becomes ever more persistent. We are told to break big projects down into chunks and take it one day at a time, but the closer I get to the finish line (of life, that is) the bigger and more insurmountable the tasks seem to become.
If I have one piece of advice to give to my younger self, it is to make better use of time. By that, I do not necessarily mean to ‘achieve’ or to win prizes and accolades, but rather to learn how to dance with time; to understand that life is short, and it goes by in an instant. You blink, and it is almost gone! I would tell my younger self to regard time as a precious resource that dwindles and can never be regained. I would tell her not to second guess herself; not to let others’ preferences and wishes override her own; not to live in anger or resentment; not to accept less because of what others might think or how they might judge. I would tell her that the only thing that ultimately matters is the time you have spent with yourself and with those who you truly love. I would tell her to not get upset at her children when they are naughty or when they spill things and make a mess. I would tell her to play in the sand with them and blow soap bubbles all over the furniture. I would tell her to tell them more often, how wonderful and beautiful they are, how they are the most precious gift she was ever given. I would tell her to be kinder to herself and others.