493. the three yous

“you are not one person,” the guru said, “but three.”

“oh brother,” replied the tortoise.

“stay with me here: the first you is the you of your memory. this is the you who stayed up late last night. this is the you who embarrassed themselves that one time in the 3rd grade. this is the you that got you to where you are.”

“okay,” said the tortoise.

“the second you is the you right now, the you listening to me.”

“that’s me.”

“correct!” said the guru. “and the third you is the you of the future. the you that will have to live with whatever the you of the present does, in the same way that you have to live with the you of the past.”

“what’s your point?” asked the tortoise.

“i have three points,” the guru replied. “the first point is that these are not the same person, so they aren’t responsible for each other. do not beat yourself up about things that you did, or brag to others, because they aren’t your accomplishments, but the accomplishments of past you. my second point is that happiness is the result of the cooperation between these three individuals. you must be the best friend of your past self and your future self: thank your past self when it does something good, like prepare coffee the night before, and do favors for your future self, like go to bed in time to get enough sleep. if you do these things, you will be happy.”

“and what’s the third point?”

“i don’t know,” the guru replied. “ask the past guru.”