I had a wonderful discussion with one my oldest and dearest friends yesterday. We agreed that as we have gotten older we have begun to look at the past and the future in quite a different way than in our youth. Through experience and conflicts, changes and challenges, we have realized that there isn’t a stable, definitive state or statuelike concept of "me" that could be mapped and then set in stone forever. Rather we continuously define ourselves over and over again, and through interaction and shared experiences we realize that who we were is not something we are now, and will be tomorrow.
There are some things you can’t shortcut in life. Only after experiencing something firsthand can you realize that the things you thought were important probably aren’t, and other things take their place. But if somebody tried to told you it before the experiences, you’d laugh or shake your head. There are things that cannot be learned from the books, they have to be learned with gut and sometimes pain. Some of these things are not reversible. After you have realized something you feel is important, it is almost impossible to forget it and go back to where you were before the change. You look back and think "that was who I was, but not anymore".
I think this is one of the most important things when it comes to life. We continuously redefine ourselves from cradle to grave.