I have a short list of things I wish I’d done in my 20’s (respected my more-amazing-than-they-are-now thighs, interviewed a slew of grandparents, backpacked through Europe). It’s ridiculous, really, because I couldn’t possibly have mustered the energy to do any of them. What I wanted to do in my 20’s was what I actually did in my 20’s: slept in, ordered Chinese food, watched bad movies, napped.
I don’t keep those lists anymore.
Here’s what I want to do in my 30’s:
I know my future self will likely wish that I’d volunteered more, will likely wish I’d worn a bikini (it’s only going downhill – literally – from here, folks), will likely wish I’d yelled less when Bee poured two buckets of water onto her carpet (I’m cleaning, Mom!).
I wish that, too.
But wishing is wishing.
Living is something different.
What I think my future self will wish I’d have done in my 30’s is precisely what I’m doing in my 30’s: floundering, failing, living, breathing, lamenting, celebrating, questioning, doubting, enjoying, trying, doing.
Outside, today, it is raining. My future self would say: ‘Erin – go play! Dance in it, sing in it, you’ve still got your knees, you crazy kid! Use ’em, for the love!’
But it’s raining, and I don’t know how to appreciate my knees yet.
So I write.
I’ve always had this sort of paralysis with too much future talk, too much hypotheses, too much crystal ball peering. I don’t read the news. I like small, and quiet, and today. Give me what I already have. A nap, the ones I love, perhaps some cheese in the fridge.
It has been said: “When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.”
A surefire formula for a teacher’s arrival, and a student’s readying:
Failure. Desperation. Heartbreak. Doing it the wrong way, so we can eventually learn what it means to do it the right way.
Frame of reference.
Age. Wisdom. Experience.
And so, I hope my future self tells me this:
“You’re not gonna get it. You’re not gonna believe me when I tell you that your thighs are immaculate, that your grandparents are geniuses, that backpacking through Europe is an incredible use of your small, hard-earned resources.
And you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t believe me. You’re not there yet.
You will be.
And you can believe all those things when you are.”