Closer to the truth is incremental but positive change. Because when I imagine myself slaying a dragon, there's this sense that one the work is done, it's just done. It won't happen again, I can dust myself off, sheathe the sword and carry on. But of course, life isn't that simple even for those of us who aren't burdened with recurring depression. Additionally, I can also do better for myself and for others, even while making the work of the moment easier and more gentle.
I've hit on a fairly simple trick. What would future me want present me to be doing? If I get up and think that through, I'm recruiting myself as an ally in supporting myself through incremental but positive change. This is vastly preferable to an internal critical monologue that focuses on what I haven't done, or have failed to do. Instead, I'm telling myself that I can start today a process that will continue seamlessly into the future and arrive at progress and major change over time.
But also, future me does want present me to take time to relax and savor what is good in the moment. I'm sure future me will look back on this time with Eowyn and Pascale and Blink and all the people I love and value (and if you're reading this, that's probably you!) as being truly precious and good. Future me would not want present me to focus on self-improvement, professional accomplishments or artistic achievement so exclusively that I failed to appreciate what's absolutely most important.
Present me is literally the only person in the world who can help future me. And future me is the best and most reliable measure of what present me ought to be doing. Without thinking about these sorts of things, I'm pretty prone to slacking off. Past me spent too much time lounging and enjoying life's more Hobbity pleasures. It wasn't time badly spent, but present me is paying the price, and future me will too if I don't start making some changes.
But I don't have to reinvent myself. I don't have to fight a battle or engage in any sort of violent metaphor. I exist in a continuum from past to future, and kindness to myself coupled with discipline will be a valuable tool in making every me on that continuum happier, healthier, more grounded in each passing moment, and more able to contribute meaningfully and positively to the lives of the people I love.
Future me will probably appreciate that I took the time to articulate this. Present me hopes I can stick with it.