Last night was the party. It was a delightful event. So many friends arrived and lovely things were said. It was so helpful to hear reflections of the work that was done together in so many places. All of my posse were here. Jenny, Ben, Brian and I enjoyed some time together and started on planning for our next time together. And the food was so fantastic.
Jenny is visiting from Winnipeg and we’ve had a lot of time to talk about what is next in our futures. She has just finished 20 years of municipal service. Here’s a bit of an insight that I want to frame carefully.
Often times when we think about the possibilities that the future holds, and work toward that vision we find ourselves running all sorts of negative ‘what if’ scenarios in our heads.
As we think about the past, with all of our best intentions, we find ourselves entertaining all sorts of ‘should have/could have’ thoughts. Last night was so wonderful in so many aspects, and yet by the end of the night I was thinking of ways that I could have been better, shared wittier or more important thoughts during my little speech at the end, been a better host, more prepared etc.
As Jenny and I sat quietly by the fire and the end of the night talking about the loveliness of the evening I shared with her some of these self-doubt thoughts and she quite rightly said ‘stop picking at it’. This got me thinking about how hard we can be on ourselves when we think about our pasts and our futures. Our intentions of goodness can be overshadowed by our perceived flaws. We can pick at our past, our service, our decisions to the point that we start colour over our experiences with negativity and blur our good intentions.
It’s quite possible that we do the same thing as we envision the future. On day 37 of this autumnal journey I wrote the following.
Dear Past self,https://www.paulharris.ca/autumn-day-37/
It’s February 2020, and I wake up today, look around with awe on all that has changed since Autumn of 2018 when I made those brave decisions to make positive changes in my life which would take me toward the future I enjoy now.
Let me tell you about my life now after all that the end of a wild decade, and the truly creative and forward looking effort that brought me to this new place. In this letter I’ll tell you where I live, what it’s like here, who’s around me, what new interests that I’ve discovered, how my soul feels and what it means to be me in the world now.
I’ll share how I made sense of the journey that brought me to this place where change was needed and became possible…
With love and admiration for the work you are doing and are about to embark on.
— Future self.
I’m still writing this letter to myself even as I’ve been travelling along the path to 2020. As I reflect this morning I’m thinking about how in the writing of this letter I’m picking at it at the same time.
So, just stop it. Ha! As if its that’s easy. At least this little phrase might help us remember to let the goodness of the past be, and as we think about our preferred futures we might also remember to explore possibility without dragging along our internalized flaws.