"In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away." -Shing Xiong *** "Do not go where the path may lead; instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Ralph Waldo Emerson *** "Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget." -G. Randolf *** "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." -E.M. Forster *** "Imagnination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world." -Albert Einstein *** Defintion of Suburbia: A place where they cut down trees and name streets after them. -(Unknown, found on sticker) :p *** "A lie goes halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." -Winston Churchill***"Love is the irresistible desire to be desired irresistibly." -Louis Ginsberg ***"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber
Friday, March 2, 2012
Letter to a Ten Year Old (a short story)
Letter to a Ten-Year-Old
Written March 1st, 2012
It was a radiant summer day when I skipped down to the end of the driveway at the bidding of my mother to fetch the mail. Birds sang and butterflies danced, their performances filling the pleasant golden air decorated with sunlight.
I was only ten then, my proud first year of double digits that I had long anticipated. In those days, the world was so small and simple, consisting of only a fence that I frequently jumped to reach the field and woodlands, my house and family, and above everything a sapphire sky with rabbit tail clouds. What lay beyond those boundaries, my small microcosm, were only distant dreams and aspirations that I still had a long time to wait for.
I hadn’t the slightest clue I was in for a big surprise when I delved my hand into that black metal box to claim what the world beyond my boundaries had sent my family.
I was delighted to find that the letter on the very top of the pile was addressed to me. My wondering eyes poured over all the stamps and markings decorating the envelope, announcing the many distant incredible places the letter had journeyed through to reach me. Me, a simple, unimportant American ten-year-old.
I also found it curious that the hand writing on the envelope, spelling out my name and address and the return address located somewhere in Australia, had a striking resemblance to my own. It was both hauntingly similar and in some strange ways, different. The charming scrawl was more developed somehow, as if reflecting years of acquired wisdom.
Coming into the house, I dropped the stack of those “goddamned money-eaters” on the table for my parents to find and rushed into my room, flicking on my light and perching on my bed. Eagerly, I tore open the tempting envelope and removed several loose leaf pages. They were each decorated with my handwriting, accented with that foreign wisdom it had accumulated.
I giggled at the date listed at the top of the first page, thinking it to be humorously peculiar. It stated: June 12th, 2025. My child mind imagined flying cars gliding over skyscrapers and beneath floating buildings, and rockets families could rent to go for vacations on the moon and Mars. At that point in my young life, I hadn’t yet given much thought to the future; my only concern was in the present and recent past. The most consideration I had ever given the future was counting on my fingers how many years I had left before I could drive, and what grade I’d be in.
Surely, that date must have been a joke.
Nestling down in my pillows, I began to read the letter that claimed to be sent to me from the future.
I’ve spent a long time wondering what I wanted to write in this letter to you. I’ve spent months scribbling notes down, and starting letters and throwing them away. I was worried about giving too many things away, and also worried that I wouldn’t tell you enough.
Today, I decided to wing it, and see what would happen.
Where do I start?
Do you remember counting the years you had left before you could drive? How you wished time would pass faster? Over the next few years, you’re going to wish time would pass a lot. There’s lots of exciting things waiting for you as you get older, like driving. But while you’re wishing, try to remember how wonderful everything is right now. Don’t forget that being young it just as exciting, and you’re going to miss it someday. It’s your time to explore and learn and soak everything up in your pretty, spongy head.
As for driving, it’s endless fun. You’re going to love it. There’s nothing like cruising with the music up loud and surrounding you. The first time you drive; don’t let Dad talk you into driving out on the main road. Stick to your guns.
Even before you have your license (your ticket to freedom), you’re going to go places. I know you’ll hate your middle school English teacher, but try to give her some credit. She’s going to give you the opportunity of a lifetime. Because of her, you’ll see amazing things that most adults never do, you’ll meet some amazing people, and you’ll fall in love. Real love, not how you “love” Zach right now.
Speaking of which, when you meet him, your first love, you’re going to have a big decision to make. I don’t want to tell you now, because it may change your future decision. All I ask is that you think it through long and hard and recognize just exactly what you’re letting go of. Once you’re certain about it, regret nothing.
You’re going to have a rough time in middle school and your freshman year of high school. But you’re going to realize things as you grow older that will help you along and make your wounds heal faster. Just never forget who you are, and listen to your heart. Follow your dreams. It’s going to make you strong, and all the harsh words said to you will fall away like harmless confetti. The people from high school are not forever, and in comparison to the world it’s like a pebble in an ocean.
People are going to challenge you and try to pull you from your path. But you are one of those strong-willed people who sees things that others just don’t. You get a goal in your head and you work for it and achieve it. You stand for what you believe in and you don’t budge. Not a lot of people can do that, and I respect you a lot for it. All I ask is that you never lose sight of that energy, that drive.
You know, when I sat down originally to write this, I had a lot of things I thought I would tell you to do differently. Decisions you will make and actions you will take. But I decided against it.
Why would I throw away that opportunity to right so many wrongs that have yet to be for you? Faith, you’re going to do amazing things. You’re going to chase your dreams, and chase them passionately. And you’ll catch them. You’re going to change lives, and through them, the world. And all the decisions you ever make, good or bad, will lead you to that point. I’d be a fool to mess that up for you.
I also had a lot of bits of wisdom I wanted to share, but I decided against that too. It will mean more to you if you learn them and discover them yourself through experience. If I tell you now it would mean nothing to you. Discovery is an important part of life, and I’d be a fool to ruin that for you too. Honestly, there’s nothing I can tell you that you won’t find out on your own. Even though you’ll doubt it at times, you’re really smart.
But there is one thing I’ll tell you; love being alive, because life is so precious. Don’t waste a moment, because you can’t get back time that has gone.
Above everything… be you. You are incredible, and capable of more than you know right now. Just follow your heart and you’ll do fine.
Faith (yes, you!)
p.s. When you get pregnant, stock up on peanut butter and jelly. You’re going to have massive, insatiable cravings for that!
I read the letter over a few times, feeling confused. I finally decided to tuck it under my pillow, and I went outside to the back field. The soft grass under my feet and the summer sun on my back helped me think.
After a few hours of exploring the woods that I knew like the back of my own hand, I returned. Retrieving paper and pen, I wrote a response to the mysterious lady from the future who claimed to be me. I copied the return address on an envelope and tucked it inside, then hurried down the driveway and deposited it in the mailbox as the sunset painted the sky in brilliant paradise colors. The next morning, I watched from the window when the mailman came, making sure he took my letter and whisked it away into the world beyond my boundaries.
A couple months later my letter returned, like a boomerang, to my mailbox. The stamps on the envelope indicated is had journeyed all the way to Australia and back. Why then, I wondered, had it not been delivered?
A messy scrawl on the envelope from the mailman answered my question:
This address does not exist!
I deflated, disappointed. Enclosed in the letter were all my unanswered questions about the lady from 2025 and what she had written. It appeared that for now, they would remain unanswered.
Taking the letter from the future from under my pillow, I ventured out into the field. I settled myself on the grassy knoll that the rabbits liked to graze on beneath the shade of the pine tree.
I read the letter one more time, and with a sigh I stretched out on the grass and watched the big rolling oceans of clouds drift across the summer sky. As I watched them on their journeys, I wondered about my journey. I thought about my world; my fence and field and woods and house and family and sky. My boundaries. Where did I want to extend my boundaries to? How big? How far?
My eyes flitted about the large white puffy clouds, and began to pick out shapes.
I saw a crescent moon, planes, boats, trees, and hearts. I saw an open book in mid-page-flip, faces, stars, and animals. The one I liked most was the pencil, with cloud cursive wisps trialing form its tip as it wrote in elegant script. Flying nearby was a cloud dragon.
I passed the day like that, a child with no worries in life outside of finding shapes in the clouds. Up there in the vast blue sky, I began to spot phantoms of my future, pulling delicately on my heart strings, looking back down at me with friendly smiles.