Do you ever feel like there are different incarnations of yourself? I do. Because the Connie I am now is not the Connie I was when I was younger. But which incarnation is the real me?
Is it the 8-year-old version, filled with boundless energy, absorbing everything around me like a sponge? Is it the 15-year-old me, grown, but my brain still developing, with a myriad of thoughts and information stimulating my synapses on a daily basis? Or is it the 30-year-old me, in my physical and mental prime? Maybe the 45-year-old me, the self-assured master of my universe. Perhaps it’s the grey-haired me, my brain filled to overflowing with all I’ve experienced, all I’ve learned, but maybe lacking a bit of that youthful vigor.
Strawberries come to mind for some reason. Starting with a flower, the tiny fruit appears. That hard green inedible strawberry grows larger and larger, until it reaches its genetically pre-determined size. Then it ripens into a luscious red fruit. If you fail to pick the strawberry, or leave it in your refrigerator too long, it gets soft and saggy. Eventually, it's covered with mold and is no longer desirable. In fact, to most of us, a moldy strawberry would elicit an “ugh” or an “ew.”
Are we like strawberries, where the best incarnation is the perfectly ripe fruit at the peak of its flavor?
Studies suggest that humans reach their physical and mental peak sometime in their late twenties to early thirties, depending on the individual. So maybe I should select my 30-year-old self as the definitive incarnation. It’s true, my flesh was firm, my face unlined, my hair brown and shiny. But, for me, at least, my early to mid-forties seem to be a more desirable age, when I understood much more than I did when I was younger. So maybe I should choose that incarnation.
Still, a couple of recent studies suggest the ability to identify others’ emotions peaks in our 40s and 50s. These studies also find that our vocabulary skills peak in our 60s and 70s – giving us the ability to use all of our acquired experience and knowledge. The flesh may be softer, like the overripe strawberry, but the mold hasn’t started to form on our skin.
Maybe all of the incarnations are real and true. Each one valid and worthy. Although if I could go back to one earlier incarnation of myself, I believe I would choose my 40-year-old self. It would be great to once again be the master of my universe.
Which incarnation would you choose?
(Photos - Connie at 8, 15, 40s, and now.)
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