Community//

Yesterday’s Self

A Conversation with an Old Woman

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She stares back at me with a blank look on her face. Wondering why it took me so long to ask I’m sure. I’ve never spoken with her nearly enough because she brings up painful things, my mistakes and bad decisions, and pours gasoline on my already flaming regret. But she knows things that, without her, I would never begin to know. Her list of stories is long and well written, always paying attention to detail that makes them all the more vivid. I’ve successfully avoided her for a long time.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a very old woman, well into her eighties. She sat quietly with her hands folded in her lap, slightly slumped down in a comfy chair with her feet propped up on a stool. She seemed resigned and tired as the breeze blew through her screened porch and she sipped peach tea. I started asking her about her past, about things I was sure she would have fond memories of. As she paused after each question, her head would tip back and rest against the back of the chair. A distant smile would cross her face, sometimes accompanied by a little laugh as she thought about her answer. We chatted for some time like that and I knew among the accounts she recalled there were times when her life had not been easy and her history as battered by poor decisions as the rest of us. But if that was true, she didn’t let on. I thought privately, “What must she have learned from them?”

As the conversation ended it reminded me of my own yesterday self. The one I don’t talk to, the one I don’t ask about fond memories and good times, before my future self became over-burdened with the stress of keeping things in check, forging on without the benefit of experience.

So I’ve decided to speak with her knowing I’ll hear things I don’t want to. So trite to state we learn from our mistakes. Perhaps I never did. Maybe that’s the problem. I didn’t pay attention to her and so the decisions continued, along with the mistakes, down a rabbit hole of shame and guilt. At sixty three it’s not too late to dig through the archives and piece together now the bits of life I tossed away.

Today I pulled out my yesterday self
She’s easy to forget, but worth listening to

We all die and are reborn when the sun rises
With a fresh set of eyes

Filtering the light through
new curtains we hung during the night

We never see the world the same way
When we wake up, it’s a different us

Another chance to thank
the story writing itself

That we might recognize our life on all the tattered pages
And dance across the next sheet of white, ink on our feet

A journal we hide in the drawer
littered with our yesterday selves

Waiting for tomorrow as if it will be more meaningful than now

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