I wish that I were sixteen years old again if only for a few minutes. Just long enough to write a letter. And I wished that I had the idea at sixteen of writing a special note to myself. Perhaps to remind me of something or even just to give myself some advice. I wish that I had done that at sixteen, eighteen, twenty, thirty, forty, and even at fifty years of age.
Now, much older, I’m writing this note, way too late, to myself – so that I can really hear what I sounded like at younger age. For example:
At sixteen I might have said, “Old man, life is great and I’ll come home someday in a big Cadillac.”
At eighteen I might have said, “Hay old man, I’ll never grow old. College is so much fun that I’m going to hate to graduate. Watch me now; I’ve got the world by the tail.”
At twenty I surely would have said, “Look, old man, you got nothing to worry about; you’re rich cause I learned to invest; so thank your twenties.”
At thirty I might have said, “Well, got married, so might have to put those savings to good use for now but I promise you that I’ll make it up to you. Don’t worry about a thing, old man, they are making really great advances in medical care so you will live to be a hundred.”
At forty I probably would have said, “Well, looks like I’m turning into my dad more and more. But at least you’ve got grandkids to help take care of you.”
At fifty I probably would have said, “Well, I wouldn’t count on those grandkids too much. But hey, I started saving again so you’ll have a small nest egg.”
In reality, I have no idea what I would have really said during those years. I wished I had written those notes to my future self. What was I thinking? Didn’t I plan anything? So here’s the challenge; why don’t you write yourself a letter that you will read much later in life. Start out by saying, “Dear future me.” Then share your wisdom or tell yourself a joke, or make a promise to yourself. Date the letter and read it when you are seventy or eighty, or even older (not too old – you may not give a damn by then).
Ok, now it’s my turn. I just retired so I’m writing to my future self: Here’s how my note goes:
Dear Seventy-five-year-old me,
It’s been a busy 38-year career for us and the stress was almost unbearable at times – it has taken its toll, but I know you’re still around. Remember, you had some medical conditions in your late 50’s and I tried my best to take care of them. And for now you’re in pretty good shape but you are a bit overweight so I’m working hard to make sure you body is in good shape in case you have more medical issues and you might need that extra strength. I’m promising you that you will be slim and as strong as a fence post standing in a South Dakota blizzard. Also, I’d hope I still like fly-fishing and I’ll try to find you a fishing partner to help continue this passion. I’m cranking out a few nice paintings and managing to sell a few, so I’ll stash a few bucks so you can get treat yourself or even take a trip. I’m really going to try to spend more time with the two boys so that they’ll respect you more and hopefully will give you a more fulfilled old age. Anyway, I really am trying to integrate spirituality more and more into our life – I want you to have lots of wisdom to share with others, especially our grandkids. I know they’ll like you. Dad made it to eighty-five so I’m hoping we do as well. Don’t be bitter. You did your best to help others and that’s what’s important. And if things don’t work out try to accept life with maturity, grace and with wisdom. Remember to smile and pray for others. A lot of people are counting on you, I mean counting on us – remember old-man, people still love you whether you believe it or not, so treat everyone nice. Mom told us to treat everyone nice and volunteer when we can. I’m sorry for letting you down – and I still never got that Cadillac. Remember, our pact to face death alone – don’t drag anyone down with you. Also, remember, we weren’t perfect so don’t expect that from anyone. Remember your hitchhiking days and all those times you barely escaped? If you can survive that, then you can survive anything – right? Be the fence post.
Yours truly, Yourself, at a much younger age.
P.S. I sincerely hope we can sit down and write this letter to our eighty-five-year-old self. I’ll meet up with you at 75 and we’ll talk. This is the Internet version of my letter; the real letter contains way too much information, right? © 2015. FMB