Someone recently asked me this: “Imagine if the current version of you could go back in time, take a walk with the 5-year-old version of you, and have a conversation. What would you say?”

I thought for a while. It’s one of those questions that gets you thinking. Eventually I figured out what I’d say to the 5-year-old version of me:

  • “Go to a few more Grateful Dead shows because everyone's right: Jerry Garcia really is going to die!”
  • “That total eclipse of the sun you’ll see in Mexico in 1991? Don’t stare at it without the protective glasses. I think that ends up causing permanent damage to your eyes.”
  • “Andrea Sarrity, the beautiful blond with whom you think you have no chance when you’re 16? Just ask her out. It will feel like a Hail Mary but trust me, she really does like you.”
  • “Make sure to tell your little brother to go to the hospital and be with Grandma Evelyn in October 2010, because she won't make it through the night.”
  • “Just relax, don’t squeeze so tight. Enjoy the ride. You need some dark to enjoy the light.”

Can you answer that question? If the current version of you could go on a walk with the 5-year-old version of you, what would you say? Here’s a thought:

Gabrielle Roth said, “In shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?'"

So get into a dreamy space and tell the 5-year old version of you some secret, some story she needs to hear to make this life journey easier and remind her to keep dancing, singing, and allowing enchantment to endure. But do it right. Set the tone. Pour yourself a lovely glass of wine, relax the lighting. Put on a crisp, beautiful song with timeless ambition (i.e., the Grateful Dead’s Sugaree or Hendrix’s Angel or Mumford’s Awake My Soul). It might go something like this, “Listen, a lot has gone wrong. But so much has gone right….” We all need more positive thinking like this in our lives.

As Ellen Goodman said, “We walk through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe today, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.