To My Future Self:
Your job is going to get tough. Someone may leave you. You’ll have a health problem. Maybe something major. Someone close to you will pass away. These are all real possibilities, some of them certainties.
Something unforeseen is going to attempt to knock you on your ass. That’s the undeniable nature of living. The flip side of the coin. For as much potential for beauty – the laughter, the self-discovery, the creativity, the profoundness of nature, the accomplishment, the soul-stirring satisfaction of meaningful relationships – life also holds within it an equal potential for disappointment.
This - the beauty and the ugliness, the joy and the sadness - is all part of life’s essential uncertainty. The uncertainty that drives some of us to church, to god, to prayer. That pushes others to relationships that we hope will fortify us against the changing currents, heal us from our gravest wounds. That drives some of us to addiction: alcohol, pills, sex, cigarettes, love.
The night-light we use as children doesn’t disappear because we stop turning it on. It dims within our adult selves, but never disappears. We’re all afraid of the dark.
We’re all religious, too. We share the often unspoken belief, the primal knowledge, that everything can and will change. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.
There are others still, fewer even, who within life’s unpredictability manage to find self-acceptance. They make amends with the unforeseen. They weather disappointment in one piece. Not unscathed. That’s impossible. The point is not to escape or ignore. The point is to maintain self-integrity, clear eyes, within the storm.
It’s true. Something is going to try to knock you on your ass. Your sense of self will waver. When it does, remember a few of these things. And update this list.
Give more than you get.
Ask more than you answer.
Evaluate each day. A simple gut-check before bed. It’s never too late to apologize for being an asshole.
Stick to one cup of coffee. Two makes you a little nutty.
Meditate. Be present. Let the most important things surface. It’s important.
Don’t expend all your emotional energy at work. None of your colleagues are going to write your eulogy.
Get off your ass. Run, lift weights, hike, do yoga. You’re happier when you sweat.
Make more lists. You need them.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Dig as deep as you need to do that.
Keep writing. Some of it is good. All of it is cathartic.
The most powerful sentence in the English language is “I believe in you.” Say it more often.
Remember that only 1 in 5 people that have a heart attack change life-threatening behavior. Change is hard. Embrace it.
People that recognize your beauty will forgive your ugliness.
When you love someone, tell them. Operate from optimism; don’t be ruled by fear.
Be open. Make sure your interior self is aligned with your words and actions. Don’t surprise people with you are. And they won’t surprise you.
Laugh at yourself. You can be pretty ridiculous.
Enjoy the journey. Always.