Monday, June 06, 2016

This Above All...

If you studied Hamlet in high school (or wherever) you can finish the quote: "to thine own self be true."

Sounds like great advice, doesn't it? What is ironic, however, is that the character who speaks these lines is Polonius, who is--to put it rather bluntly--a big windbag. He is constantly interfering with affairs that he should leave alone.

So, how does this connect to the writing challenge of the week--what advice would I give my younger self? Well, I suppose just this: advice is not always helpful.

As I get older, I find myself doing the reminiscing bit. You know, going over events from the past, wondering what would have happened had I...fill in the blank with a "this" or "that."

But I always come back to one conclusion: while I am well aware that things in my life aren't perfect, and I certainly am not perfect, in the main--I like the way my life has turned out and I like myself.

So for fear of altering the course of my life in some unforeseen way, if given the chance, I would most certainly decline to tell my younger self anything.

Except...

There are a few dumb things I did. Perhaps if I had been forewarned, I might have done better.  Such as:

--remember the time I stopped going to movies? Well, that was dumb. Plain and simple. I love movies and I made no great moral point by avoiding them.

--then there was the time that because I had a migraine, I decided not to go to a concert. My husband had gotten tickets for us to go to an Eagles concert--I am a big fan of that group. Turned out the concert was superb--part of their comeback tour.  To this day, my husband has the tickets tucked away. And every so often he mentions it. Wish I had told myself--go to the concert. The headache won't last; the experience of a great concert will.

--swimming. Yup, just that. I wish I had learned to swim properly when I was a child. I had lessons, and regularly went to the public pool (in Bulawayo) where we had instructions. But I just couldn't get the hang of it. I loathed diving--putting my head underwater. I never mastered breathing. I can't float. Seriously--I just sink. So I wish...

--And one thing I most certainly would have told my younger self--take advantage of the places where you live and absorb as much as you can. For example. having grown up in southern Africa, I never even tried to learn any of the languages. I missed out on the experience of a lifetime simply because I couldn't be bothered.

That's it, folks.

Perhaps, as Polonius advised, I was being true to myself. Too impatient, too distracted, too young and immature. But, isn't that what it means to be young? Even if I had been able to advise my younger self, I doubt if I would have paid attention.

6 comments:

Jayne said...

Like you, I wonder if it would have made any difference in the trajectory of my life had I known then what I know now. What is it Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” I suppose without going through life in the way we did, we may not have become who we are?

Anvilcloud said...

Ahh, the language thing. I grew up in Quebec but never learned French. It was a time when one didn't have to and there was really no opportunity for this young kid, but I still wish. I thought I might give it a go in retirement, but alas, my sound discrimination is not very good -- even for English in many cases.

Ruth said...

Many of my family members are bilingual and I feel quite dumb as an English only speaker. Nice to know that you have enjoyed your life journey and like who you have become.

altar ego said...

Although I haven't yet written a response to this prompt, it seems that many of us are discovering that the paths our lives have taken are worth accepting and embracing, even if there is a bit of regret thrown in here and there due to a choice we made, or didn't make (I skipped a Dixie Chicks concert due to anxiety, and totally regret it for many reasons).

I think you're on to something that Polonius' words can sting, taken in the context of who he was. At least we've learned (I think) that we can accept that truth and carry on.

Im Downtown said...

There are so many choices to make in life and eventually, you have to decide which road you will take. As for languages, my father was Greek but my mother was not, so we did not grow up in a bilingual household. I attempted to learn Greek, but it was difficult for a number of reasons that are no longer important. I may still attempt to learn it using a program like Rosetta Stone. Have a great weekend!

Ginnie said...

Yes, I did the agonizing over things I did or did not do in the past and then decided, like you, that I still had and am having a pretty great life. Your entry is a wake up call to be the very best I can be for the remainder of my life.