"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there."
-L.P.Hartley, British novelist
When I came across this quote, it changed my life.
When I talk to people about where and who I have been on my life's journey, I often use language like,
"my former self" or, "my past life"
and I have felt guilty about this.
I think this is because deep down I don't believe that the core of me (my beliefs, values, etc) is "gone" but the semantics and tone I use seems to "write off" where and who I have been within that core.
I approach life so differently than I ever did in my teens, twenties and thirties and I feel like I am a very, very different person than I was before.
This is probably true, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing, or even a unique thing, but I have been struggling with how to navigate who my "former self" is and not negate it.
So, when I read this quote which was a part of a short memoir by James Ireland Baker in my Real Simple magazine, my jaw dropped and I stared at the words with wonder and relief.
That was it.
I found the language I was searching for.
My past feels like a foreign country--it exists, it's real, but they do things differently there.
ways of life...
To embrace that my "former self" speaks a different language and approaches values and ways of doing things differently than my present self, is so freeing.
It's liberating to know that I don't have to live in the past, but I can visit it and negotiate a balance between what is now and what is then.
And, like I would in visiting any foreign country,
I need preparation and planning; I need to get paperwork in order;
I need to formulate a plan of how to navigate the foreign places that may throw me for a loop.
I also know that when I visit a foreign country I rarely leave the same as when I arrived.
This makes me nervous, and excited.
And then I get to come home.
I get to live here, in the now with who I am today.
And this is a good place to be.