“The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember.”Harold Pinter
After meeting a client in London today, I realised I was close to the area where I lived as an undergrad student during my Junior Year Abroad.
The fifteen- minute walk was a journey back to a time that I did not expect to visit that day and for which I was wholly unprepared.
There was so much that was the same and yet there was much more that was different. Trying to find the restaurant where I waitressed part-time was impossible and the local pub was on the opposite side of the street as I recalled it.
What had been such an enormous experience – it’s not at all dramatic to say that the year changed everything about the course of my life – left such little detail over 30 years later.
Did I make it all up? Was my memory that poor? And if it is so flawed, what else about my narrative–the basis for my very life–in England, is also inaccurate?
As I walked on the streets, both familiar and strange, I wondered about myself at 21 and what she would think of me now. Would she have been proud of who I’ve become and where I’m heading?
It is not at all comfortable to ponder, I am surprised to find, and I am tempted to sit with this discomfort for a while rather than solve, justify or analyse it.
And what advice would I give to my 21-year-old self? I often use timelines in coaching both groups and individuals and projecting into the future, imagining what it would be like, what a person really wants it to be like, is the first step towards creating that future.
While we start with the present state, leveraging imagination and dreams is one of the techniques I use to help clients feel and sense their way into a future that is both meaningful and possible.