It’s become quite popular for folks to write letters to themselves. Seriously, it has. Sometimes, they’ll write to their young selves and offer advice. Maybe you’ve written a letter to your future self full positive affirmations and whatnot. There are even websites offering tips on writing to yourself, where in the future or the past .
I’ve never done this, mostly because I’ve written very few letters in my life (with the notable exception of business letters of which I’ve written thousands). I once had a therapist suggest that I write a letter to myself. Like most suggestions, I ignored it.
Today is my birthday. I am 52 years old. I spend little time thinking about the past. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well move on. My birthday is the only time I wax nostalgic. I’m not sure why, but I do.
Current Me has no advice for Young Me. Young Me wouldn’t take advice anyway. Plus, if I write Young Me and tell him all the things that will happen over the years, he might be terrified. Young Me was quite prone to worry. No need to make him fret.
I’m also not interested in writing Future Me. I have no idea how old Future Me will be. Future Me already knows everything that Current Me and Young Me know, plus a bunch of other stuff. Who am I to annoy him with my advice? Maybe he should write Current Me a letter. That might actually be helpful. At least I’d read it.
The letter I’d really like to see would one from Young Me to Current Me. I don’t remember much about that dude. It might be to nice get his take on my current situation. Perhaps I’ll write him a letter which will compel him to respond. It would read something like this:
Thanks for your recent letter. I appreciate all the advice, but I’ll be fine doing things my way.
I’m doing okay, I guess. I’m in college and planning to go to law school. I guess you know all that. Sounds like I end up doing alright. To be honest, I can’t imagine how it worked out like that. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.
I’m glad to see that things have gone well for you (us?). I’m quite surprised that you’ve been married for over 25 years. I can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a few months. Now, you tell me that I’ll be married in just a few years. Is sour wife really ugly? I’ve always worried that I’ll have to settle for some homely chick. Next time, send me a picture of her. Then again, maybe it’s best I don’t know.
You have three kids? And none of them are psychopaths or grievously mentally ill? I’m barely able to care for myself. I’ve messed myself up in a lot of ways. I can’t imagine what I would do to kids.
It’s a relief to know that you made it through law school and actually got a job. I appreciate your suggestion that I pay more attention in school, but you forget that there’s a lot going on in my world. When I’m not brooding, I try to have a good time. School isn’t my idea of a good time.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit sad to know that you aren’t super-rich or famous or anything like that. I hoped I’d make a bunch of money doing something and then not have to actually work. Oh, well.
Hey, you didn’t have to tell me about Mom and Dad dying. Obviously, they will at some point, but it’s better to leave that a mystery. I’m pretty much completely dependent on them right now. I suppose I really will have to fend for myself at some point.
I was intrigued by your observation that Mom and Dad are actually right about almost everything they’ve told me. Your memory might be failing you. I still think I know better than they do.
I was pleased to find out you’re 52 YEARS OLD! I never expected to last that long. That’s great. As I write this, Dad is in his early 60’s. I can’t imagine being that old. Good work. Hopefully, I won’t do anything to mess that up. Of course, I guess I won’t, since you were able to write me.
Thanks for the picture. You didn’t get real fat or bald, but I see you got Dad’s white hair. I’ve always expected that to happen. You still kind of look like me but not really. I’m not sure I would recognize you if we passed on the street. You really are starting to look like Dad, which I never expected.
Did you become a pompous know-it-all like most people your age that I know? I hope not. Please don’t go around telling everyone else how to live their lives. Be especially sure to take it easy on the lecturing. Honestly, no one wants to hear it.
Here’s another thing to remember: Let your sons be themselves. They’re going to do that anyway, so you might as well help them. I know, because I’m living through that right now. Yes, they’ll disappoint you sometimes, but they don’t mean to do it. It happens. Be sure they know you love them regardless.
Don’t hammer your kids too much when they make mistakes. Believe or not, they usually know. I’m not saying to ignore the problems–you know Dad never did! Just take it easy.
I must take exception to some of your counsel. How do you know that I’ve never been in love? Again, your memory fails you. You’re falling prey to one of the worst mistakes people your age make–you forgot what’s like to be young.
While we’re on that subject, being young isn’t a barrel of laughs all the time. I worry about my future and occasionally do hideously stupid things. You might remember it as nothing but a bunch of good times, but there are plenty of bad ones, too. Don’t waste any of your time wanting to be me.
I always figured I’d contract some horrible disease or die young in a stupid accident of some sort. Future Me must have done something right along the way. I can’t fathom that I will do all that you described in your letter.
To you, I’m sure it seems that I did all I could to stand in your way and make life difficult. Mostly, I did the best I knew to do at the time. Even when it wasn’t the best I could do, I still did something. Instead of telling me what you think I need to know, you should perhaps forgive me for some of the mistakes I made. I’m sure you’d do the same for your sons.
As an aside, nice try with the “smart phone” nonsense. There’s no way that everyone carries a phone with them all the time. Do you really expect me to believe that your telephone has more computing power than any computer in my time? You send written messages to people with it? Listen to music? Read newspapers on it? C’mon. I know you’re in the future, but you’re not on Star Trek.
In closing, thanks again for the letter. Take care of yourself. We should try to hang around as long as possible. After all, we don’t want to get a letter from Future You telling us how we’ve screwed up his old age.