Hello, do you remember me? The me that was, let's say, fifteen years ago. A girl of sixteen, seemingly poised at the threshhold of a life of achievement and success, a life lived in the big wide world that beckoned so enticingly to my classmates. In another two years we would all be graduating, with college to look forward to, a stepping stone that would give us an advantage over our less-gifted peers in the competitive job market.

But we weren't looking for jobs – no, a 'career' – that was the buzz-word, the glamorous-sounding label for whatever path in life we would choose. And really, at that time of invincible youth, it seemed that all paths were open, all the ways cleared for whatever our hearts could desire.

Nobody would ever appreciate me for what I wasBut what if one stood, not poised to aim accurately, but instead teetering in confusion and indecision? What if the multiplicity of choices seemed a tangle, a maze, rather than a delight to the palate of the mind? That was me.

Or rather, that was the subconscious me. I can see it now clearly, now that the rain has fallen to clear the air of the dusty haze of carefree youth. Then, I thought I knew some things, thought I had some clarity and direction. I would become a diplomat.

Well, in the US, that might have been a more likely possibility for the well-qualified person, since Jews there have climbed every ladder available, so it seems. But I wasn't yet aware at that point, that in England, where I grew up, anti-Semitism under a veneer of the 'old-school-tie' system would have locked me out of any upper echelons of civil service power. In politics I might have stood more of a chance.

But that wouldn't even have been the real problem, if I would have got as far as trying. The main obstacle to 'success' was my own nature. I was shy, painfully so, and in an aggressive, still male-dominated world even a century after feminism had first reared its head, such types just didn't make it.

It didn't seem fair. There I was, eminently qualified, or so my grades and my grandmother told me, knowing deep-down that nobody would ever appreciate me for what I was, what I contained, what I was capable of. It was true in high school, I had no doubt it would prove true in college, and later on as well. It was the one big reason to give up before even starting.

I wasn't the only one, but I did seem to be extremely more afflicted than my friends of similar nature. Whereas another girl of lesser capabilities could brush aside a comment of criticism or even rejection and just plough forward, I would be crushed and withdraw to a rhetorical corner to lick my wounds and wonder in distress why I, innocent in my own eyes, had been the recipient of such an attack.

So no, life wasn't fair. That was what my father would tell me too, as he tried to put some spunk into me, some 'get up and go.' Not that he had exactly taken his own advice to heart – he was himself just an office worker for British Telecom. Whenever I would quiz him as to what exactly he did at his desk all day, he would answer 'cutting and sticking.' I never got a better reply than that, to the day he retired. But he soon found boredom in its wake, and started to work from home for private clients, 'cutting and sticking' software and fixing technical faults.

Then there was my mother, manager of a medical practice, who seemed contented just to be able to help people get done what needed to be done, to keep the wheels running smoothly, even as she was just an unnoticed cog in the works. Yes, she had a title, and her own office, maybe even a decent salary too, but no ambition to advance, to seek promotion. I couldn't identify with her either.

Our class had to fill in a questionnaire about our interests, hobbies, character and strengths – do you remember? Mine was a mixture of conflicting goals. On the one hand, I had, so I thought, an intrinsic love of nature and the outdoors, that had gone unsatisfied in suburban London with a garden consisting of patio with a few flower beds. On the other hand, the perception of glamour in the world of 'career' still attracted me, alongside the expectations of my family and educators. What could one do with that?

The real transformation transpired out of human visual rangeI knew that the peace of mind I felt on the occasional weekend trips our family took to a local farm to pick fruit in huge, open fields couldn't be replicated in a City office or a Manhattan skyscraper. But I didn't want to give up the dream of either of those worlds. Don't all kids (and many adults too?) think they can have it all?

Standing alone among the low greengage shrubs, the nearest human almost a dot on the horizon on a grey, windy day in England's summer, I would let the sensation of just me, standing alone under the huge domed sky, sink into my pores. For some reason, on those afternoon excursions I chose to wear a long, peasant-style skirt and scarf, semi-consciously trying to reach a point backwards in history where people were closer to nature, more in tune with the world around them. But afterwards, of course, I was back in the car, driving back home to suburbia, back to asphalt and bricks that locked everything away again.

It was a frustrating see-saw that seemed to have no end to its tilting. Live in the world, or with the world. Neither extreme would satisfy completely, and a balance seemed impossible to achieve.

Young girl, what can I tell you? How would you have reacted then, if I had come back to you from now and told you that fifteen years later, you'd still be grappling with the same questions, just from a different place? Would you have been reassured, that it was possible to continue living with the doubts and conflicts, or would you have recoiled in despair? Probably the latter. I'm sorry for you. I know how much you suffered, from not knowing. How painful it was to get out of bed in the morning not knowing why it was even worth investing the effort, not knowing what the end goal was. If I'm honest, I'll even admit to you that, sometimes, I have those days these days too. But thankfully, they're not the majority any more.

Do you want to know why? Will you be able to understand the answer from my perspective now, at your tender age? Will you look at me as some strange creature from an as-yet unknown world, or will your soul intuitively sense that there is a truth somewhere that could be accessible to you, too?

I'm sure you would be shocked to see me now. You didn't even know then that such people existed. But really, the real difference is inside. It would take you some time to discover the changes that the years and experiences have wrought underneath the surface. True, the exterior changed a lot too, but the real transformation transpired out of human visual range.

There are still doubts. There are still questions. And there is something else that accompanies them – the knowledge that, in this physical life at least, the answers will probably continue to elude me. And the acceptance that maybe that is okay – that I can live with it.

Do you recoil in shock? Your mind was trained to seek answers to questions, not to resign itself to confusion. The possibility of knowing everything – literally everything – is the fuel that keeps the whole academic world running and you were a part of it, part of the excitement of its promise of progress and development.

It's not a complete mirage of course. There is knowledge out there, there are real facts and figures that we can bend our minds around and extrapolate from. We can deduce and derive reams of information, create, invent, improve. It's just that the underpinnings of it all – can we derive them too?

Was that what made you almost despair of living? The realization, gradually achieved, that the big 'why' under all the 'what' was missing? And that nobody, not even the biggest minds, had a satisfactory answer to that?

There are still doubts. There are still questionsI remember your argument with your best friend – it must have been around that time. You were standing outside the school's science labs, a heady whiff of chemicals emitting from the rooms down the corridor. She was insisting that the main goal in life was the pursuit of happiness, and you countered that no, it was the pursuit of knowledge. For a brief period you'd wanted to become a theoretical physicist, remember? When you were fascinated with the 'real world' in its basic forms, how it had come about, where it was headed. But when your head started reeling as Hawking's books got too difficult to understand, you gave up on that idea.

But you never bought the 'pursuit of happiness' idea. You wanted to 'know.' The more, the better, or so it seemed.

So can you relate to me at all, when I tell you that I, that you, don't know anything at all? That knowledge can act as a smokescreen for disguising our blundering into oblivion? Or will you just dismiss all that playing with words as a literary exercise in nothingness?

You just reminded me of the time in a physics lesson on electronic circuits, how you facetiously put up your hand to challenge the teacher as to how the current just 'knew' not to bother going down the dead-end circuitry and 'decided' instead to go around the connected wires. She wasn't very impressed with the question, that teacher. She just told you to be quiet and not to disturb the lesson, or something like that. But you weren't just trying to be clever. You wanted to 'know.'

I still have times and days when I want to know. When the pursuit of knowledge still holds its old fascination and attraction, when I would love to run out to a bookstore and buy up all kinds of tomes of science, psychology, sociology etc.. But then I remember you, and I remember the years that followed, the years in college when 'knowing' seemed as far away as ever, even receding as I chased it futilely and increasingly abjectly. When those who I had thought held that knowledge suddenly seemed small and pathetic against the backdrop of a huge sea of information and wisdom that just bobbed the specks of humanity all over it.

I thought I would drown in that sea, in the attempt to navigate its waters. Or maybe I saw myself as shipwrecked on a tiny deserted island of just one aspect of wisdom, watching dejectedly as the waves of all I didn't yet know and probably never would, mockingly rushed in at my feet only to race away again, untouchable, unreachable. There were no master oarsmen that I was aware of, there was no captain of the high seas who stood above the raging froth, able to command it.

What would I tell you then, to do? I look back at you standing in the greengage field, your skirt billowing around you in the wind, your face upturned looking for the sun behind the clouds. You had an inkling then, though you hadn't worked it through yet, that you were closer there to 'knowing' than you would be in college, career or anywhere else. You couldn't explain it then, but I'll try to explain it to you now.

You wanted to be part of a whole – is that a true assessment? And there, you felt it, that you were standing under the vast canopy of the heavens and that you could connect to it in some way. You can. But not by climbing one tree, or one mountain, and achieving just that pinnacle of success. Not by digging one mine, one valley or rift, and achieving another 'crown of glory.' Instead you have to realign yourself, reposition yourself within the mix, within the complex dance of creation.

It sounds too mystical? Or too much like one of the other paths you toyed with treading, before abandoning that too, that of the 'green' revolution? That didn't satisfy your soul either. But that's not what I'm talking about.

To know that you are a part of creation, and more than that, that you are a part of the Creator. You always believed in Him, am I correct? You didn't know what, if any, were the implications of such a belief, but it was something of a lifeline in a seemingly random world, although by your teen years, you were losing your grasp on it.

It was created not just with you, but for you To let go of the ground, untether yourself, grab a hold of the kite string and feel yourself being pulled aloft to soar above the earth, to have a view of the whole expanse of everything-ness and yet, to know that you have a part in it too. Because it was created not just with you, but for you. You have a part in its ongoing creation. Your existence is necessary in order to bring it to fruition. The cog in the machinery is at one and the same time just a humble cog, even as it is vital to the functioning of the whole system. And so its importance is not just confined to the specific location it finds itself in. It is equal to the whole, for without it, there is no whole.

So are you. If you want to be a specialist in the world, a cog on a shelf in the workman's cubicle, to be retrieved when necessary, perfect in your composition and formation but limited in your uses, you are free to be that cog. But if you will instead put yourself into the machinery, and bend yourself and allow yourself to be manipulated into the position that is waiting for you, in order to carry out the task of the machine, you gain immeasurably.

You can be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, even a diplomat. You can be top of your field, even acknowledged by the whole world as such. But you must also choose to be just you, the you who has been created to be just you, as a part of the whole, not a tool in the Creator's Hands, but a soldier in His army, and then you gain eternity.

I don't know if you can really fathom what I'm trying to tell you. I can't travel back to you and speak to you face to face. But I'm glad for you, knowing that eventually you did find the way back, that you didn't lose yourself completely, that you are heading in the right direction. I remember you then, and I strengthen myself now, seeing how far I could go, even as I know how far I have yet to travel.