Becoming the very best of YOUR best

Posted on September 10, 2011

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This blog will return to regular programming next week, please enjoy an appropriately timed break in the wellness-talk for something a bit bigger than training & nutrition. And if none of you read this, that’s ok, it’s something I’ll save for my kids someday. If you do read…thanks!

Ten years is a long time- that seems to go by in the blink of an eye. While it often feels like 10 years ago was ‘just yesterday’, I know how I remember the events of 10 years ago – Sept 11, 2001 – but I wanted to pull out my photo albums from that time period to see if it was as I remembered it. In ten years that seem to have flown by, things have changed that happened so subtly that I didn’t notice them, until there I was, looking at those pictures and what was different was staring me in the face.

The pictures I have of myself & my friends in the time around 9/11 show not-even-21 yr old college kids who are so care-free it’s ridiculous. Every day was a day filled with adventure & excitement. What constitutes the ‘adventures’ of each day are different now…10 years later. Sure, everyone grows up sometime – but I’d forgotten just how much we’ve grown since then.

Since we’re always living with who we are ‘right now’, it’s easy to let little pieces of you shift & change over time without realizing you’re doing it.

What if you could keep the absolute best of who you are from each decade & carry it to the next one, never forgetting it? So as you “grow-up”, accumulating decades, you become this ‘only the best of the best’ version of yourself? 

You can. But not by accident. To carry the best-of-the-best of yourself forward, you’ve got to remember it & cultivate it regularly. Most of us try to be youthful & fun even though we’re not idiot 18-year-olds’ anymore, but if you look back at your last 10 years, I bet you’d find some things that you forgot you used to do/be like/love.

I took a look back to 10 years ago because I wanted to remember the moments of 9/11, but I found things that inspired me. In fact, some of the photos that inspired me will be framed & hung up so I never forget exactly who I am (& who I can be no matter the circumstances or location I am in this world). Here is my story of where I was 10 years ago…

I didn’t live in this country on 9/11. Studying abroad at Cambridge University in England – a decision my college roommate & I made the minute we read the email that the deadline to sign up was approaching. We’d never discussed studying abroad before, but it sounded like fun so we registered, then let our parents know what we’d be doing come August of that year.

Cart before horse  – yes – but what did it matter? The things we truly wanted to do, we didn’t have to think too much about. We just made it happen. Making decisions confidently and quickly – something both my roommate & I still excel at.

On Sept 11, we’d been in England for 3 weeks. We’d already travelled by train to parts of the UK, and were comfortable hopping around the UK and over to Europe via mass transit. My roommate & I had walked on a sunny, warm, fall day down to the train station on the other side of town. Our house was on one end of Cambridge, all the colleges, markets & pubs were in the middle, then the train station was at the other end. We walked the 30-ish minute walk to check the train schedule for that weekend’s trip to the Continent.

On the walk back, I wanted to stop by a cafe that looked fun right in the center of town. We walked over the cobblestone side street up to the menu board on the outside wall & looked at the food offerings and, more importantly, the entertainment menu for the pub that opened in the evening. The doors were closed on that side, but a large crowd was gathered on the other side of the cafe, the whole wall of doors flung open.

We made our way around the corner to see what the crowd was all about – and saw two TV’s blaring in the cafe- the 1st tower of the World Trade Center smoking. The crowd was buzzing about a plane hitting the tower & terrorism. I remember grabbing for my roommate as it dawned on us what we were looking at…& just then, the 2nd tower was hit. I remember terror creeping across up my arms, making my skin tingle. I’m not sure who let out a yelp, but tears immediately sprung to my eyes & quickly turned to shaking sobs. “What was going on?!” “Why is this happening??”

“They are Americans!”, the crowd heard our accents, “get them your phone, let them call home!” Cell phones were thrust in our hands as we tried dialing home. The lines were already down, we couldn’t get through. I don’t know who we thought we’d reach – all of our parents would have been at work. We desperately wanted to hear voices we knew tell us it was ok.

We ran to a convenience mart up the street to buy phone cards to use in the little red phone booths. Somehow, those land lines worked. There still wasn’t anyone home though. We both left frightened messages for our parents (which probably scared the sh*t out of them, what with their daughters an ocean away & nothing they could do about it).

We collected ourselves, walked back to the cafe to watch the TV’s & get as much information as we could. A few hours passed – we drank coffee that I think was on the house given the situation – and watched. Nobody really knew anything, everything was unconfirmed, and we didn’t want to leave that TV for fear of missing some ‘thing’, anything that would let us breathe easier, that would connect us to home…anything.

We finally headed to home when we realized the rest of the house would likely be wondering & worrying about us. All 18 housemates laid/sat/crouched on every piece of furniture in the living room, watching the TV, waiting to hear from family back home…& wondering how this had just changed everything.

And while we cancelled our Germany trip for that coming weekend, we were right off to an extended travel trip on the Continent the weekend after. Because we were 20-year-old college students who naturally assumed that each day was fully ours to do whatever we wanted with it. Somewhere inside us, we knew we had one shot at the day laid out before us, so we didn’t stay upset for long, we relaxed into whatever situation we were in, & we made sure we wasted no time – even if ‘wasting no time’ meant laying on your backpack in the grass of a town square at lunch on a Friday simply to take in the world around us. We were present – saw every detail of the world going on around us.

Youthful innocence? Sure, maybe. But even with more ‘adult’ responsibilities that come as you get older, I know it’s possible to carry the best of your last decade forward – so long as you remember that stuff. I had forgotten just how joyous life was 10 years ago, my life is happy now, but now that I’ve seen the pictures of my life from 10 years ago, I remember that life & will remember to bring the very best of that life into the life I have now.

And what a rich life it would be if we could do that every time we complete another decade….look back at the best of ‘us’ in that decade & bring it forward. Maybe you need to go pull out some old pictures of your life 10 years ago & pull forward the best of yourself.

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Posted in: Evolve Thyself