"If you could go back just one year, what would you tell yourself?"
(A writing prompt from Sometimes Sweet)
There have been so many moments this year where I've glanced back in time at Me Then and thought, If I could only see Me Now.
One year ago, Me Then was in this full-speed blind run. For once in my life, I wasn't really chasing anything, and I wasn't really running from anything. I was just going as fast as I could to see where I'd get.
I'd just spent three years chasing a baby. I'd grown up thinking that babies were slow and easy to catch but I was really wrong and, despite all my best efforts, I was not fast enough. It turns out that babies are more like lightning, or turbo jets, or cheetahs and less like molasses, or snails, or math class. Metaphorically speaking, of course. (Literally speaking, babies are not very much like turbo jets.)
There comes this point in every chase where you either catch it, or it gets away. And if it gets away, what then? A lot of people just start chasing something slower. Other people lay down and decide not to chase anything ever again. I considered both options, and realized that both would leave me sad. I needed to keep running. I just needed to not be so close-minded about where, exactly, I was going.
So this time last year, as I said, I was in a full-out eyes-closed sprint. I'd just gotten back from CMW in Toronto, which I'd attended as media for a local music website. I had the flu, but I was gearing up for JUNO Week here in the city, arranging interviews and applying for credentials and pretending to be a PR student at the U of R to get myself a job backstage. I was also planning for a week-long trip to New York with my little sister to see her perform Off Broadway. I was making wee notebooks to sell at a local street fair and had just started filming little weekly segments on a talk show about live music. I was teaching piano lessons to a group of hilarious and amazing grade school kids and taking random side jobs here and there doodling and designing.
I really, really liked my life.
This past weekend, I heard someone on the radio talking about the JUNOS, which happened Sunday in Winnipeg. I felt a little pang of nostalgia, and I said to the person I was with, "I can't believe it's been a year already since all that." And they said that Thing that everyone seems to be saying to me lately:
"Don't you wish you could have known last year where you'd be right now?"
I thought about it, and realized that I don't, honestly. Even if I could go back in time and tell myself where I'd be now, that that elusive dream I'd been longing after would for sure definitely absolutely be mine--soon!--I for sure definitely absolutely wouldn't.
Partly because you learn a lot of good lessons when you don't get what you want right away. (You learn about how you don't know best and about how life is not about getting what you want and about how to trust and wait and about how to be happy and content even while you're wanting something very much. You learn how you're not in control no matter what you do to fool yourself into thinking you are and you learn to chill out.)
But also partly because if I'd known the future, I don't know that I would've said yes to all the opportunities that came along in that time. As it was, I wasn't just trying to pass time until what I wanted came along, I was legitimately enjoying where I was at. Trying new things, seeing if maybe a new dream would start to unfold somewhere in there since it was looking like my old dream wasn't coming true any time soon or maybe ever. My future was very open and the possibilities were so endless, which made the present quite exciting. Like a game show where they give you the option of door number one or door number two or door number three and you say, "Can I have them all?"
As much as it seems like a curse sometimes, not knowing the future is a pretty fantastic blessing. So, if I could go back in time just one year, I'd probably say to myself, "I'm not even going to give you a hint about where you'll be this time next year. You'll see. Till then, don't waste any time or opportunities."
And probably, Me Next Year would say the same thing to Me Now.