Dear Fiona: Times and Places

Dear Fiona,

In my last letter I wrote about some of the difficulties regarding this particular time of life, and how I haven’t done as well as I’d like in dealing with them.

In those moments, sometimes I have to just sit and remind myself that this is one season of life. It had a beginning, and it will have an ending . . . and when that ending comes, there are things I will miss (like rocking you to sleep), and things I won’t (like waking up at 3am).

And that’s what I’d like to share about today.

Life – yours, mine, and everyone’s – comes with many such seasons. Some of them will be pleasant; others not so much. Most will be a mix of the two in various flavors. Some of them, you’ll want to get past as soon as possible. Others, you’ll want to linger in for as long as you can.

Time being the one-way street it is, usually you won’t have the choice. So my hope is that you’ll approach the different seasons of life with a couple things in mind that I’ve learned through my own experience:

Treasure Now

The first thing I want to share with you is to treasure the stage you’re in right now, whatever it holds for you. The temptation to dwell in past experiences, or drive on toward future ones, will be incredibly strong at times . . . and especially so when there are very concrete things about right now that you don’t like or with which you are dissatisfied.

There is nothing wrong with being unhappy. Some occurrences and circumstances are just unpleasant ones. There is nothing wrong with being dissatisfied. Dreams and hopes and ambitions are the things that drive us to be better versions of ourselves.

But that’s just it: Those better versions you hope for are still versions of your self – just as the person you are right now is a version of your self.

There will always be things you can improve. But there will also always be things you can learn . . . right here, right now.

Remember what I said in a previous letter about the fact that every single person you will ever meet has something they can teach you?

That’s true of yourself as well: Every single version of your self . . . the ones you show to others, the ones you guard and bring out only for your closest friends, the ones you wouldn’t ever let see the light of day, the ones you try your best to forget even exist . . . every one of those selves has something to teach you.

You can’t learn it if you’re trying as hard as you possibly can to ignore those places in yourself . . . or to rush past them in order to get on with the Next Big Thing.

The best analogy I can think of here is engagement. When your mom and I got engaged, we were so excited and happy and busy with planning for a wedding and all that came after it . . . but we were very careful and conscious not to simply enjoy “almost being married.” Being engaged, while it was a transition period, was also its own distinct time period with its own distinct joys and challenges and lessons and tasks for us.

We wanted to enjoy that, too.

And that’s what I want for you. Treasure now, and learn from what it has for you.

Empathize with Your Past Selves

And while you’re on about the task of empathizing with all of your various selves . . . don’t forget your past selves.

Regret is a natural feeling . . . if you never regret anything, you’ll never learn anything, because you’ll simply be content to always stay the same as you are right now. But in regretting things that have happened in the past, don’t condemn your past selves to oblivion. It’s too easy to forget that your past self is a part of your current self . . . to easy to wish that your past self had never existed, without acknowledging the role she played in forming the person you are right now.

So have regrets, certainly . . . but don’t despise or belittle or condemn the person you once were, simply because they were imperfect or flawed or embarrassing. Such moments are a part of every life, and they truly will make you stronger, because without those moments you’ll never learn how to handle a whole range of emotions that comes along with them. Without those moments you’ll never learn how to empathize with someone else who is facing such a moment.

Without those moments, you’d be a different person entirely . . . one who isn’t quite as strong, or as kind, or as thoughtful as you will be for having endured such moments.

So as you live with the results of your choices, it will only be natural to regret some of them. But in doing so, don’t lose sight of the treasures you have gained from them as well.

Love,
~Dad

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Filed under Things intended for my children that the rest of you get to read too

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  1. Pingback: Fiona’s Letters | The Unedited Life

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