To Myself Ten Years Ago: The View from Today

Prompt: If you met yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell yourself?

A Letter to Myself of 10 Years Ago, Written Today

Relax. That thing you are writing which is stressing you out and causing obsessive worry? That thing is not good. You won’t like that thing. Write it anyway. Finish it. Bury it. Move on.

Stop worrying about how and when your writing is going to make you famous and wildly important. People don’t become famous and wildly important from their writing anymore. Maybe they never did. Write anyway. Finish it. Share it. Move on.

You do have a gift. Maybe several. Use that gift but don’t believe your gift makes you special. Everybody has their gift. There is no preordained purpose or expectation of your gift. The world is not waiting for you to rise up and share your unique voice. Write anyway. Finish it. Share it. Move on.

You will change the world far less than the world will change you. That’s okay. The world will make you better, more of the person you want to be, but it will happen through adversity, upset and disappointment. You will have ideas. You will frustrated because people do not see things the way you see them. Frustration will be your constant companion. Be grateful. Frustration is not the obstacle. Frustration is the path.

Keep writing. Finish things. Share them. Move on.

Don’t make your work too important. You are going to be a father. Try to be patient. Explain things.Take your time. Be the kind of person you want your daughter to be. Model the importance of persistence in the face of uncertainty and self-doubt. Finish things. Share them. Move on.

Take pride in what you create. The work is delicious. Enjoy it.

Now, pay attention. I need to tell you something unpleasant. I need to tell you something upsetting.

Ten years from now, you will help someone you love die well and, in the space after that person has gone, you will help others you love create new lives for themselves. This will become your most important work.

Understand this. The times are precarious. There is danger everywhere. The world feels like it is winding down. We are still fighting wars stacked within wars, constantly lurching over the edge of a harsh precipice. Even the weather feels wrong. We have become, I think, the most dangerous generation, far more dangerous than that of our grandparents who gave us the atomic bomb. We are a generation that is killing ourselves with indifference as we continually subjugate ourselves to leaders with no vision.

Don’t be afraid. There is still so much beauty. There is still so much joy. There is so much possible.

You do have a gift, but it isn’t the words. The words are just tools.

Keep writing. Finish things. Upset people. Move on.

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