A Letter to the Younger Me

Hear these words, hear the rhyme
Heed the hope within my mind
Send me back to where I’ll find
What I wish in place and time
~~~~

Dear Rick,

In your time it’s December 13, 1971.  I know it’s hard to believe and will come as a great surprise but I’m you!  Yep you, but exactly 40 years in your future.

I’ll help you here.  Remember that ghostly woman who would repeatedly terrorize you in nightmares as a five-year old?  We never knew her intentions, but we knew she was evil.  Then there’s that dream of a lakeside home and a boat parked in the back.  The huge antenna atop that sprawling ranch style home.  How about that last kiss and the words Dani said to you just five nights ago when you last saw her?  All those doubts and the terrible, nagging, lingering ache in your heart?  Who else but you could know these things?  Young love is always tough.  Give it time, your feelings will pass as they will for the others that will surely come.  Heart breakers, every one of them!  Prepare yourself… adult love can be even worse.

You’ve just celebrated your 19th birthday and have embarked on a great adventure.  Your decision was wise, the third most important ever!  I hope this message brings some comfort and assurance to you during these lonely, difficult days that will ring-in and accompany the new year.  Loneliness is painful, homesickness is worse yet, especially during the holidays.  Four years is such a short time, six weeks is a breeze.  You have the world by the tail but you don’t even know it.

Yes, I am you.  I’ve lived and enjoyed our life.  I’ve seen, felt and experienced all that awaits you.  But nothing my friend, nothing is written in stone.  My mistakes can be your second chance, a rebirth, an awakening.  I am far less than what you can become.

My first advice… Get serious!  Life is not a series of random choices to which you can give little to no thought.  Of course some are inconsequential, but think about the choices that lie before you and remember things won’t always work out as you plan.  There are consequences to every choice, to every decision.

Be flexible and willing to pursue other horizons.  Great opportunities will come your way.  There will be several, but they are not endless.  Be ready to recognize at least one of them.  While it may be hard to comprehend know that the years ahead will fly by, and time — as well as memory — are relentless in keeping perfect score.

Spend extra time with the oldest in your family.  Write down what you know now and take notes in the future.  Remember all the great stories you’ll still be told.  They’ll help make the projects ahead worth more than you could ever imagine.  Go to the west coast but never, ever forget your family and especially your mother and the grandfather you’ve left behind.  People are never perfect.  They weren’t meant to be.  While we are products of our upbringing and environment those molds can be broken.  Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t.  Whatever the case, foster forgiveness.  It’s required for more reasons you cannot now appreciate.

Follow through with those promptings and make that name change you’ve given thought to… the earlier, the better, it’s not too late.  Your mother will come to realize the value of that decision.  Your children deserve to carry on that name and to know your family, and your family to know them.  Otherwise they may never come to know that which they’ll be denied.  That would be a terrible mistake.

Choose your mate wisely and with the greatest care.  It is the second most important decision of your life.  Never allow yourself to be second to anyone or anything.  Give her and your family the same consideration.

Be the best dad you can possibly be.  Always be there for them, take them with you when you go “out and about”.  Never say no when they want to be part of your day.  Invite them even into your mundane activities and have them help while they’re still willing.  Don’t worry so much about the details.  Hug them often… tell and show them you love them… let there be no question, take nothing for granted.  This is by-far your most important calling and the difference it will make is beyond measure.  They’ll be your greatest blessing.  Take my word for it.

Remember those Ten Commandments and especially The Golden Rule.  Read and draw from prose and good books.  Be ever mindful that loyalties, in relationships and at work, are not often shared.  Heartbreak and disappointment are a part of life in friendship as well as love.  All things will come in time.  Be patient.  Be cautious, not reckless.  Live to have few regrets.  Learn to be humble, it’s a powerful virtue.   And never buy a plaque that says: He who dies with the most toys, wins!  It simply isn’t true.

Save at the very least 20% of everything you earn.  Forget G.E., forget IBM and General Motors.  Invest all you can into Apple, then Microsoft.  You haven’t heard of them yet, but it’s only a matter of time.  You’ll be amazed at the marvelous inventions that are just ahead.  Enjoy life, live large but spend wisely.  Be charitable to a fault remaining ever true to those values you’ve acquired.

Finally that most important decision of your life?  You’ve already made it… five years ago last month.  It was not a random event but part of the plan.  You’re on the right track.  Don’t mess up.  I and a lot of others are counting on you.  I envy you and this second chance.

At the end of the game, the King and the Pawn return to the same box.

Sincerely,

The older and wiser you

P.S. No matter the urge, keep that heavy overcoat at the top of your duffel bag when you leave Lackland.  Illinois get’s awfully cold in the wintertime.  I know what you’re thinking:  “I’m going to Illinois?”  I’m afraid so my friend.

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4 comments on “A Letter to the Younger Me

  1. It has been said: “Youth is wasted on the young”. If only we knew then what we know now, life would have been more fun. I think that is why we “lecture” our offspring with what we have learned in life, trying to impart what can only be known by one’s own experience!.

  2. Amber says:

    “At the end of the game, the King and the Pawn return to the same box.” – I love this quote.

    Your letter made a huge impact on me. I wish that my future self could send me such words of advice/encouragement, just as I wish your younger self could hear these words.

    I was left to wonder what the most important decision could be, but I won’t ask. You said he made it 5 years ago and that you’re writing to him at age 19. To make your most important life decision at 14… sounds like it may have been difficult and unfair. I’m glad you chose for the better.

    Best of luck to your future self, as well!

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Amber,

      Thank you. Thank you very, very much for the comment. So glad to hear it meant something more to you than simply a good read.

      Regarding that most important decision; It was neither difficult or unfair. As I wrote… it was simply part of the plan.

      Best of luck to your future self as well.

      Sincerely.

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