By Ashley Lodato

I recently took my 11-year-old daughter and her friend skiing out of the Chickadee Trailhead. We were coming down Meadowlark and got to a spot with a sweeping view below of Thompson Road, which we had climbed up earlier.

The girls stopped and were yelling “hello!” and waving wildly at the road below. I thought they had spotted some other skiers and were waving to them, but they told me, no, they were waving to themselves — the people they would be in four or five minutes when we descended from Meadowlark and rejoined Thomson Road. They were, in essence, waving to their future, older selves.

When we got down to Thompson Road and had a view of the Meadowlark trail above the girls stopped again and waved up. I guessed, correctly, that they were waving to their younger selves — the people they had been a few minutes before.

But then my daughter’s friend said to her, “You know, we could come back here in 50 years and ski this same trail. So let’s wave to the people we will be 50 years from now. And then when we come back, we’ll wave to the people we are right now.”

So they waved and waved, seeming to fully grasp the concept that we are all somewhat different people at different stages of our lives. And then finally by some unspoken accord they pointed their skis and sped away downhill without further ceremony, their contemplation temporarily eclipsed by the simple joys of freshly groomed snow, gravity, and youth.

I’ve been pondering these poignant moments on the ski trail with the girls as I look at another year passing. So often as the new year dawns we look forward, toward new beginnings and healthier habits. We make bold resolutions, we set ambitious goals. Our aspirations for our future selves drive us forward (as does the inexorable march of time, of course) and we spend a lot of time acknowledging and cultivating our older identities.

But instead of looking only forward as the new year approaches, many of us find it equally rewarding to reflect on the year just past — to look back upon who we were earlier in that year and to give ourselves a little wave. “I remember you,” we’re saying to our younger selves, “and you’re coming with me on this next trip around the sun.”

PREVIOUSLY, IN WINTHROP

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