When I was about 10 years old, I was given a gift – it was a book summarising all the Shakespeare plays by telling the story of each one. I was also given a ten-pound note in a birthday card.
I remember thinking ‘Hmm, not so sure about these. But one day, both these things will be really useful.’ And I placed the note inside the Shakespeare book as a future gift to myself and put the book on a shelf in my room. And then gradually I forgot about it.
A few years later, with the new awareness of my 14-year-old self, the Shakespeare book suddenly became helpful and relevant and, when I opened it, a ten-pound note floated down onto the floor at my feet. It was a rare experience of an old self giving a gift to a new self.
Reflecting on it now, I think this linking-up of different selves is a beautiful metaphor for the many different phases we go through over the course of our lives.
What is irrelevant and meaningless in one stage will be profoundly useful in another. We can even re-read books and, because our awareness has changed so much, it seems to be completely differently and we cannot believe we ever read it.
I love this quote by George Bernard Shaw because it reminds me to do my best to see myself, my children, the people I love and the people I meet with fresh eyes every time I see them or think of them. Who knows what mysterious growth and expansion has happened since I saw them last even if it was a few moments ago?