Art in Action: 4 Ways to Be An Original Echo

past me now me future me 020816Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

Every moment, movement, work of art. Every decision, every conversation. Every single person. Everything is an echo. Everything is molded by what came before and reverberates into the future. Everything and everyone is a remix – but an original one. Everything and everyone is an original echo. Recognizing this can help us to make choices right here and now that take into account Past Me, and make for a happy and healthy Now Me and Future Me.

Here are four ways to approach being a wise and healthy Original Echo.

1. Past Me to Now Me

Everything your Now Me is experiencing right now was affected by what your Past Me chose and what experiences your Past Me had. How much sleep you got, how much water you drank, what interaction you had with your partner and then what you thought about all of that, all now resides in your body and mind and heart. There is a direct line from your Past Me to your Now Me.

Take a moment and notice if your experience now is going in the direction you intend. Then ask yourself what choices did Past Me make to take me in this direction? What things did Past Me experience were out of my control? If situations were out of Past Me’s control, how did your Past Me think about them or respond to them?

Be kind to your Past Me. If she did something that helped your Now Me, thank her. (A friend returns home from work and finds dinner waiting for her in her crockpot. “Someone made me dinner!” she says. “It was me! Thank you, Past Me!”) If Past Me made choices that took you off track, know that she was doing her best at the time.

Which leads us to…

2. Now Me to Future Me

Now Me is the only place you can choose from. The key is to find a balance between the needs of Now Me and Future Me (depending on your personality, the two may often be in conflict). Your Now Me may want to take the afternoon off and read a book by the fire, while your Future Me may want you to make dinner, get some work done, or pay some bills.

Knowing yourself (or getting to know yourself) here is key. Are you a procrastinator that lets Now Me run the show, leaving a pile of crap for Future Me to deal with? Do you tend to defer gratification, giving Future Me a ton of upside but leaving Now Me depleted?

This is a balancing act of discernment. How can you make choices that meet the needs of Now Me and Future Me? Sometimes, I simply need to take care of Now Me and know that Future Me will make up for it. Other times, even if Now Me is reluctant to go to the yoga or get ahead on my chores, the relief and ease that Future Me gets is worth the Now Me effort now.

You can actually check in with both Now Me and Future Me. One might be feeling like she is getting the serious short end of the stick. If one is hatin’ on the other or is resentful and angry, some balance needs to happen.

3. Future Me to Now Me

Get to know Future Me. She has wisdom and perspective that can be truly helpful to Now Me. Future Me is the Me of intention. Checking in with Future Me is how we build a life of purpose and meaning…and a retirement fund. If Now Me isn’t sure what to do, check in with the situation Future Me wants to be living in and choose from there.

And if you’re really feeling stuck and at a major claustro-pickle in your life, do this exercise that I love: describe a conversation between your (at least 20-years-from-now) Future Me to your Now Me. The more sensory-based and detailed you can be about the conversation, the better. Describe the house where Future Me lives, what she is wearing, what snacks she has laid out for you. After describing her furniture, the music she has playing and tea that she pours, sit down with her and ask the questions that are troubling you. See what she says. See what matters to her. And see if her perspective doesn’t make Now Me choices clearer.

4. Creative Me to Now Me

Remembering that everyone and everything is an original echo, that everything is a remix, is a huge help to me in my creative work. I can easily get stuck in a loop of It’s-All-Been-Done-Before-So-Why-Bother? Or, I’m just copying someone else’s work (this is a big one for me).

If I find myself in these creativity-killing mind loops, it can help me to honestly look at my work: what have I echoed from someone else? What have I offered that is different? A million people may have drawn, written about, danced, sculpted what I’m doing, but *I* haven’t done it before. The truth is, I can’t really copy anyone and even if *I’ve* done it before, this time is brand new. Life, by its very nature, is an echo of everything around it and exquisitely unique at the same time. So stand proudly in being an original echo and create away!

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