Past Lives

Think about all your accomplishments. Everything you know. All the cool stuff you’ve experienced, or done. All the good things you’ve collected into your life. For each of those things, there was a “before.” A time when you hadn’t yet. If you’re proud of a beautiful picture you’ve painted, then there was a time when you hadn’t yet painted it. Heck, there was a time when you hadn’t yet painted.

This is universally true. So why do we act like it’s something to be embarrassed about?

I’ve noticed that when people are proud of something, they often try to present their lives as if it was absolutely inevitable that they would accomplish that thing. If they’re proud of their artistic ability, then talking to them you’d think they were born with a paintbrush in their hand. A child prodigy, whom everyone always knew was destined to become a brilliant creative soul! It ends up seeming that way because they never want to share the embarrassingly bad few early paintings, or the time they spent pursuing something totally different before they discovered their love of art, or anything like that.

But you had past lives. I had past lives! It doesn’t reduce my credibility or my achievements. All of the things I’m good at now aren’t diminished by the fact that I was a stable hand when I when I was 18. (Also: not rhetorical! I was actually a stable hand when I was 18.)

The life you’re currently living is also a past life for the future you. Maybe what you’re doing now will conveniently fit into the preferred self-narrative of that future you. Maybe it won’t though. But it’s leading to that future life, all the same! And if that future life is good, then the things that led to it are worth sharing, no matter what they were.

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