What if you could have a conversation with your younger self? What experiences would you share? What advice would you give? Drop in on the unfiltered conversation between Annie Younger, aged 25, and Annie Older, 35 years her senior. As references are made to prior episodes, the conversation is best understood if followed sequentially from the beginning. Click here to read the first installment.
Annie Younger: How do you mean, Annie Older, that imagination and day-dreaming are a prerequisite for carving away the marble? You quoted Michelangelo who said“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” And you said this hurting world, more than ever before, needs angels. And these angels are all around us, but too many of them are trapped in the marble of their limiting self-beliefs, self-doubts and lack of self-awareness and self-confidence.
Annie Older: Yes, it’s so unfortunate, Annie Younger, that so many of us are prisoners of how we think of ourselves, how we think we ought to be. As we talked earlier on, each of us is the sum total of the genes we’ve inherited plus all the things that we’ve experienced in life up to the present moment. Those things we’ve experienced are filtered through our culture, our societal norms, our family, our religion, our education system, our natural environment, our friendships, our work, and so on. All those filters mean only certain sanctioned messages get through to us. They’re the messages that tell us how to think and behave in ways that are acceptable to our specific culture, society, religion etc.
Think of it this way: you’re a young Caucasian woman living in Canada, in the early ‘80s. You were raised in a Christian family in a faith-based, rural community. You’re heterosexual and married to a white, Christian man; you know you’ll be having kids. You’ve never thought much about your life situation, because in these respects you fit pretty comfortably into the mold you were born and raised in. Now let’s imagine another woman in the same mold you’re in with regard to culture, religion, family, etc. This woman, however, is surviving on anti-depression medication, while guiltily trying to suppress her imaginings of herself in a physical relationship with a certain woman. They’re sinful thoughts after all. She’s feeling ashamed playing the mother role because she doesn’t love motherhood, and, while captivated by the idea of being an architect for iconic structures, she regularly reminds herself that that dream is way out of her reach. But, she knows she’d be really good at it.
Annie Y: That woman is trying hard to ignore her imagination and dreams wherein lies her real self—isn’t she? She thinks she needs to repress these things because of what she’s learned and she’s making herself sick over it. Who knows, maybe her trying to be what she’s not is depriving the world of beautiful buildings, and herself of love even if…
Annie O: It’s a deliberately blatant example, Annie Y. And to flush out the example even further, as a little girl, this woman loved building sand castles at the beach, always uniquely and creatively designed. She’d spend hours the day before, lost in drawing pictures of the castles she’d build. In high school, she’d wished she could have taken woodworking with the boys instead of the home economics she had to take to prepare for wife-hood.
Annie Y: It’s obvious, isn’t it? If she was lost in flow, as you’ve called it before, drawing her pictures, then she was impassioned with that. And the fact that she wanted to do woodworking with the boys—the signs were there all along, weren’t they? But I can understand how she’d be pulled along by the societal current, stuck in the mainstream. If I was her, I’m not sure I’d have the courage or strength to try to fight the current. I don’t know how far afield I’d have to look to find a woman architect. Heck, as you know, Annie O, there are hardly any women in our home community who don’t get married after school, settle down and have kids. Some might continue to work outside the home, but not many. But, as for homosexuality, I don’t know what to think about that! It’s not right. It is a sin. So maybe your theoretical woman is doing the right thing by keeping that part of herself suppressed. Maybe she needs to learn how to overcome the immoral urges.
Annie O: Until this moment, I’d quite forgotten how much my thinking has evolved over the years! Annie Y, for the purposes of this discussion, are you able to suspend your judgement on the morality of homosexuality?
Annie Y: You’re scaring me, Annie O! Some time back in our conversation you hinted that my spirituality is going to change and now you’re suggesting that my thinking around this moral issue is also going to change. What am I becoming? Who are you? I know what’s right and wrong. You used to know! Have you forgotten—will I forget—all that? Doesn’t it matter to you anymore?
Annie O: Whoa! Hang on Annie Y. We’ll get to that later. Remember I said earlier on something to the effect that an evolving way of thinking doesn’t mean that you cast off what you believed before as no longer relevant. We are a continuously morphing composite of everything that has been in our mind from the get go to the present moment. Nothing in nature is static. Including our mind.
Annie Y: I’m still uncomfortable with this, but for the sake of continuing our conversation, I’ll let it go. Please go on.