One day I would like a dinner with me, myself, and I. It’s not an ego thing. It’s a time travel thing. I simply want to get my past self, my present self, and my future self in a room to clear the air.
I’m Thankful that This Heading Is Done
I make it a habit to at least twice a day to think about the things I’m thankful for. It’s usually one of the first things I do in the day and one of the last things. I think of five things that I’m thankful for. It might be specific to the day or it might be something in general. It’s amazing how much there is to be thankful for.
For instance, think how much we take for granted that we didn’t have 100 years ago: central heat, air conditioning, water heaters, smartphones, computers, and so much more. It’s quite easy to find five things, and research shows that people that are thankful are happier. Being thankful gets our focus off what we lack, and onto what we have.
A Dark and Lonely Road
So as I’m sitting here being thankful in the wee hours of a cold winter morning, I started thinking about my own personal progress. I started thinking about where I was just a little over four years ago.
It was an oppressive and overwhelming time for me. I was crushed by a devastating divorce, I had to move a thousand miles north, away from friends and family to be close to my kids. Other than my ex’s family, I knew no one in the area. Financial pressure was mounting as I was left with a house that wouldn’t sell and it tapped out my savings. And, on a rainy evening a few months before moving, my heart sank as my car of nearly 10 years died.
When I left, I had no idea where I would live. My only transportation when I arrived would be my bike. I was nervous, but hopeful. I listened to audiobooks on tape in a long, eighteen-hour trip in a U-Haul partially filled with borrowed furniture as traffic backed up around New Jersey.
It took me four days to find a decent apartment. It was a small place with no air or decent insulation in the heart of a small town. Still, I was thankful and found the best ways to focus on the positives: great neighbors, good location, a room for my boys, and more. That didn’t stop the lonely nights, brutally cold winters, and extremely tight finances from slowly draining the hope from me, as if a vice were crushing me slowly and consistently.
During this time there were days I had no motivation. None. I remember sitting there many days where one minute fell into the next as I racked my brain for any reason to lift my body out of bed. Some days I would just lie awake for half an hour until finally some small, distant shimmer led me to rise completely numb, but outwardly mobile.
Even those days where I felt nothing at all, I still found ways to exercise. I knew that depression was all around me and I needed the endorphins. I made sure to pack my gym bag the day before so I would be ready to go when the time came. If I could just get out the door and in the car without thinking, I would be okay. I knew once I was at the gym, the workout would actually be enjoyable.
I also made sure to practice my guitar, so I had a creative outlet. I had a late start in life, taking up the guitar a few years before I turned forty, but I was determined to average thirty minutes a day every day. So, I did. With rare exceptions, no matter how I felt, I practiced. Some days were brutal. Some days I felt like rolling in a ball, my heart heavy, and my eyes a dam that was at its breaking point, but I still practiced.
I read. And when I drove or ran I would listen to audiobooks, soaking in the information. Most were about self improvement which helped me push myself to get better and encouraged me through some dark times. I made sure to read a lot, averaging a book a week some years.
A Better Life
Slowly things started getting better. I found an old car to drive me and my kids around. I was blessed to work from home, and many places I wanted to go were in walking distance, so I didn’t need much.
And over time the place started to feel like home. I started to make friends. My hope grew as I went from having basically a desk, a bed for each of us, and a table, to having a TV and chairs for each of us (recliner or lawn chair), to couches, a microwave, an Xbox and more.
Today I feel blessed. I have a wonderful girlfriend, a beautiful fully-furnished, 3-bedroom home, and a nice car. I have the tools I need to succeed. I have plenty of good food in the fridge. I spend a lot of time with my kids and I have several creative outlets including this blog. Things have really turned around.
I’ll Have What I’m Having
So, it’s for this reason I want to have dinner with me, myself, and I. I want to break bread with my past self, and my future self. I have a lot of things to say.
First, to my past self – big, overpowering hug. It wasn’t easy. You really did the hard work of staying on course through the pain, the loneliness, and emptiness. You weren’t perfect by any stretch, and you made a lot of mistakes. But you persevered. You stayed persistent. Honestly, those are the traits that mattered most… that and you believed. Even when you really doubted any positive future was out there, you did the work anyway, showing deep down you believed it. You may not have enjoyed the 30 minutes of guitar some of those nights, but now I have over a thousand hours under my belt. For that and many other things, I’m eternally grateful for your sacrifice.
To my future self: I will remember the sacrifice of my past self as I count my blessings. The changes in my life were due to his hard work. I pledge to pay it forward in kind, doing what I can to improve your life as he improved mine.
What about you? Do you see the sacrifice of your past self? Do you realize all the good he or she did for you? Do you notice how much better your life is now because of the hard work he or she did back then?
Regardless of the efforts of your past self – the sacrifice or lack thereof – are you ready to make some hard choices today? After all, we love it when good things come our way, and we have the power to send good things our way. We simply have to do the work today so that future us can have a better tomorrow.
What are five things your past self has done that you are thankful for? No matter how many bad choices your past self has made, there have to be five things you have benefited from. The fact that you have the ability to realize that is one.
What are two things you can apply yourself to today in order to benefit your future self? It just takes a small effort every day. What will that be for you? Your future depends on it.