A letter to my younger self
Dear younger self,
Looking back on my life is not a new or unusual activity for me. As a leap year baby the four-year cycle of birthdays has encouraged me to try to remember what I was doing in the year of my actual age (e.g. 16 or 17 and at school) and compare it with my birthday age (16 or 17 when I am well and truly into so-called retirement).
The school days were very happy ones, except for the nerves as the twice-yearly examinations approached, filled with all the jolly hockey sticks’ mentality one can imagine. In lessons one wanted to learn and other times were filled with fun and schoolgirl pranks, great friendships were forged and still exist to this day.
Remarkably there were five of us whose names came together in the school register and we five, plus one, are those girls who are still in touch even now and see each other from time to time. Our school life was very channelled and focused by the system of the time; we did not challenge it, nor did we think to then. It was not the done thing – it was safe, secure and happy so why should we want to change it? This past life seems so innocent now in these days of equality and technological revolution.
But these days of equality and technological revolution have great advantages in older age; communication with our children and friends is almost instant and our thirst for knowledge is greatly helped by the internet. Nevertheless this is tempered by the world-wide-web which makes me anxious for new generations who are becoming targets for unscrupulous users and also as the technology moves on how do we keep up with the morality of some of the issues raised, especially in the sphere of medicine?
There were times of great upheaval in my earlier life with the marriage disintegrating and new horizons beckoning. It is said that when a marriage falls apart one can look back and see that for half the time it was happy and fulfilled and that for the second half of its duration it was not. So it was for me, divorce beckoned, life had changed from looking at cows’ udders to looking at cartons of orange juice in a new full-time working business life.
From days of gloom and despair came days of excitement, tiredness and new friendships. New experiences were taken up with delight; trips to the Caribbean, visits to a Grand-Prix, the races and art galleries; all things which a busy life on the farm had not allowed. This was a release from the confines of agricultural life and an overbearing father-in-law. It was a release from the strictures of a conforming teenager, who hadn’t sown her wild oats, now able to rein free, even eliciting a comment from a solicitor “How did you put up with it for so long?”
It seems to me that it is only when one is out of a situation that the reality of what it was like sinks in. The constant love and joy of one’s children, parents and friends gives a stability that enabled me to look forward with hope for a better future whatever or wherever it was to be.
Life in the 20 years after these events does have a certain routine to it but that is a comfort and contentment. The yearning of the years of unhappiness, the grass is always greener syndrome, is replaced by the feeling of not wanting to be anywhere else or with anyone else than one is now. Certainly there are good and sometimes difficult times but life is still exciting with adventures to have with someone who has the same aspirations and ideas for the future.
With love from Older self