Letter 028: The Imaginary Kingdoms
Today’s letter is about one of my greatest foes—a person responsible for more things going wrong in my life than any other. They’re the direct cause for most of my failures, the not-so-hidden reasons for my insecurities, and all-in-all, quite a piece of work. No, I’m not speaking of any great dragon, wizard, or evil emperor—I’m referring, of course, to myself from the past.
It seems like I can’t go more than a day or two without wondering what on earth myself from the past was thinking. I mean, the amount of time I spend picking up all of their things, finishing their to-do list, solving the problems they ignored… What was myself from the past even thinking? And I don’t even get the luxury of blaming it on the usual suspects, the great evils of the land or shortcomings of others, because myself from the past is just me!
And yet, even writing that, I know it isn’t true. It’s a humorous way of viewing the current state of my life, but one that I am forced to admit isn’t true. My past self isn’t a real person, not in the sense that you and I are real people—the problems created by the past are my problems, the direct result of who I am today.
I’m reminded of the words of Tolstoy, who describes the past and the future as “two imaginary kingdoms” that no one has ever entered. He wrote, “We suffer from the past, and we spoil our future because we neglect our present. The best the future can offer is dreams. There is only one thing which really exists: the present”.
So if you, like me, find yourself facing down the problems of your past self—well, you’re not alone! No matter how disorganized your world was when you got up this morning, no matter how far behind or ahead you feel, the only thing you have now is the present, and the belief that if you live the present well, whatever the past and future are—those imaginary kingdoms—will prosper.
May the road rise up to meet you!