I recently came across a story that has been stuck on my mind since. A person shared that their “secret” to living a long life was to live a life of reflection. Their body was around 30 years old, but they expressed feeling like they have lived for 60 years.
The person played their own little game to make self-reflection into a routine. They would do this by starting with a piece of string (think a strand of thin jute/twine). While they examined the string intently, they examined their present life even more intently. They thought about their loved ones; the home they were living in; the places they recently visited; the places they hoped to visit; their job; their relationship… The person thought about anything and everything that mattered at the moment. And while they held on to these thoughts and feelings, they tied the string on their wrist.
The string would stay on them as they went through a variety of life experiences. And it wasn’t only one. The person had multiple strings – of varying thickness and colors—decorating their wrist; each containing vivid memories. But with time, even the thickest of the strings would break. And whenever one string broke, the person would remember all the thoughts they had while tying that one string. They would realize how must has changed since then.
One time, a string broke, and the person cried because they remembered their grandmother was still alive when it was tied.
Our world can change in an instant. And it can often be difficult to accept how unprepared we may feel for these changes. But change is meaningful. It gives us reason to bare ourselves to our present moments. And it allows us to hold hope for our future selves.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
Your life is constantly evolving, even when you sometimes don’t feel that way. Although you may feel stuck at this point in your life…like your situation may never change or improve…Remember that with each day, you do not wake up the same person. You are changing. And as you begin to change, your surroundings will change too. Time continues to flow, and we (mere mortals) are always moving with the currents. Some moments you may swim. Other moments you may coast, or even get swept up. But I believe that you are always moving towards the future you envision for yourself. And while you do so, I hope you will take a moment to look back and realize how far you’ve already come.
Anabel Helen is a Registered Therapist (Qualifying) with College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. One of Anabel’s areas of interest includes life transitions and reflection. Anabel uses evidence-based modalities and an integrative approach in order to help her clients receive treatment that is personalized to their unique needs.