Today it has helped.
This afternoon, my past has been tapping me gently on the shoulder and reminding me of my life that was. I pop off the lid off a dark green plastic bin and look inside. I gingerly unfold letters from 1988, 1991, 1994…nothing since then in this box. I find birthday cards from friends I still cherish and a series of letters to me while I was in Africa from someone I didn’t think I even knew. I skip the yearbooks. My heart simultaneously sinks and lifts at all my writing from that period: finished and unfinished short stories, notes, travel logs, the binder from my Children’s Literature correspondence course, and oddly, a research paper on the history of the Louvre. This is all enough to jog memories from the back room of my brain and put me in a contemplative frame of mind for a while.
So much has changed since then. I wrote so much more, thought about writing so much more, studied it, experimented with techniques and audiences. I had forgotten what a reliable and valued correspondent I was. And now, don’t I feel old? Not necessarily; in fact, perhaps the opposite. Places have changed, jobs have changed, methods of communications have changed, but I think I’m about the same in some of the most important areas. I hope so.
When I have more time, I’ll reread everything I wrote, the short stories, the poetry, the notes…and if I’m ready, I’ll start all over again.