Park Bench Time Machine
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished”
~Dan Gilbert from TED 2014
There is a young, female photographer, Chino Otsuka, who is photo shopping her current, twenty something self, into pictures from her childhood. It’s really quite remarkable. She’s able to get the shadows right and all the little details that make it absolutely seamless.
My jaw dropped when I saw them.
That got me to thinking.
Because my jaw doesn’t drop often, therefore it must trigger my brain.
As I admired Chino Otsuko’s photographs, they reminded me of an exercise I did once in a workshop.
Last Wednesday, at our Women’s group, we tried it, and it rocked. It’s pretty powerful, and can be amazingly healing.
You go back as your present day self and sit down next to your younger self at time of turmoil or change.
So, think about that for a minute…
What if we could visit our younger selves?
Like a visitor from the future, what would we do or say?
“Damn, you’re beautiful and your body rocks and you’re convinced you’re a fat pig.
Here’s some stock tips?
Quick, get me a scissor so I can cut off that mullet?”
Through the course of our lives, we’ve all had times of despair.
If we saw the “us” from that time, would we even recognize him or her? Would we pass her on the street and smile, or cross the street to avoid eye contact, and that dark cloud overhead?
Go back in your memory, to a dark time in your life.
How old are you? What are you wearing? Where are you? What time of day or night is it? Look around and gather intel.
Now, feel the sadness, betrayal, fear…..all of it. Really go back there.
Then remember, you’re just visiting and it’s part of the past.
Now, go and be next to “you.” Sit in the car, or on the stairs or stand on the beach.
It’s a bad time, so comfort them. Would you put your arm around them? Wipe their tears? Crack a joke?
No one could know better what you needed at that time, than you…….so do it.
After awhile, start to talk to them, the “you” from that painful time in the past.
You’ve made it through to the other side. Tell them. Give them hope. Tell them how you did it.
Say gently: This Too Shall Pass. Whisper it. Don’t make eye contact or they may slug you.
People say that potentially irritating phrase all the time for a reason……Because it’s true.
In that moment of doubt or pain, we are convinced nothing can change, or worse yet, that the change will kill us.
We’re convinced we are finished; when this is actually a journey and we are works in progress.
Don’t tell them how long it’s going to take or what collateral damage will be left in its wake.
One woman said she would have given up if she’d been told it would take ten years. She could barely stand one more minute of her pain.
Be kind and compassionate and let them know that all will be well.
THAT you know for sure, because here you are!
You didn’t die, you didn’t give up. You put one unsteady foot in front of the other in that slow march out of hell.
But look at you now.
Like a Phoenix from the ashes, you have emerged strong and brave and ready to kick ass.
It really is an interesting exercise and I suggest you give it a try.
I’d love to hear where you met your past self and what you said. Tell me about it below.