Good morning, Dear Ones!

I found this photo of myself the other day from 1988: A little baby semi-adult person, 19 years old, who had not yet grown into herself (or her nose!) and who was desperately yearning for every possible life experience — but uncertain of how to get it. She is somewhat unfamiliar to me, this girl. I can barely remember her. Generally speaking, when I look back on age 19 (which I try not to do!) all I can recall are the blunders.

But I got to thinking about how, not very long ago on this page, I posed the question: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF…and I thought it would be interesting to turn that question around: What advice would your younger self give to YOU? Can we ponder for a moment what the earlier versions of ourselves might have to teach us?

So I looked at this picture and asked 19 year-old Liz, "What do you want me to know? What do you want me to remember? What do you want to set me straight about?"

And here is what she said: "Lady, all I ever wanted was to see the world and be a writer. I had no idea how to do either of those things — but that's all I wanted, and so I threw myself into the world and I threw myself into that work. You have been lucky enough to have had the all experiences that I so desperately prayed for. You have been able to travel, and you have been able to write — beyond even my wildest dreams. So first of all, lady, please — BE GRATEFUL. Don't be caught complaining about ANYTHING in your life. Because the life you have is the one that I always wanted. You may not remember anymore what it feels like to want, to be stuck, to be broke, to be naive, to be doubtful, to be hungry — but remember that all I ever felt was hunger, and that urgency lit the fire that ignited your whole existence. Everything that you have ever achieved or received came out of my desires. You might want to thank me for that sometimes, rather than always looking backward in judgment at me, embarrassed over things that I did not yet know, or ashamed of the mistakes that I made in youthful ignorance. I did not have your wisdom yet, to be sure, but that's only because I didn't have your experience. I might have been clumsy and foolish, but I was earnest. What I did have at age 19 was a wide-open mind, a curious heart, a yearning for the world, and the balls to go out there looking for life. And those qualities brought you right here, right to the very nice and rewarding and comfortable place that you currently inhabit. SO…YOU'RE WELCOME, lady. You're welcome."

Wow. I didn't realize she had so much to say! I also didn't realize how ungrateful I had been toward her, and how ungracious. (All I ever want to do is go back and fix her faults. But maybe I should leave her alone.) Sorry, 19 year old Liz! I will never defame you again!

So tell me, everyone…what does your younger self want to let you know? Go find an old photo and look closely. Who was that person? What amends do the two of you (then and now) have to make with each others? What messages need to be sent across time?

Do tell!

All love,

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall

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