Have you considered writing a letter to a younger or older version of yourself? I imagine the prose would discourage some decisions and encourage others. It might also be a therapeutic tool to help repair a current problem.
I turned 40 this week. To celebrate, I wrote a letter to myself, made more progress on the novel, exercised, and spent time with my family.
After this introduction, you can read my letter. Perhaps, it will serve as a model for you on your next birthday. Maybe, it will force you to do the complete opposite and wonder what's wrong with me. However, the words resonate with you, know I am grateful for the time you took to read them and feel something.
Dear Future Self,
What's happening? I hope this letter finds you and the family in excellent health.
Listen, you don't know enough. Yes, you turned 40 today, and there is more to learn about life. Thank Barack Obama in part for helping with this realization.
Last month you read Obama’s book, A Promised Land, which shifted your perspective of him, his administration, and world governments. Obama’s description of his first term exposed the narrowness of your views and the vastness of human experiences. In the White House, he served as more than a puppet for white supremacy blinded by democratic optimism.
With every book, the author has an agenda. A Promised Land is not an exception to this rule. However, you appreciate Obama’s vulnerable expressions of insecurities, relationship challenges, personal finances, and governing policies.
By the time Obama turned 47, his past difficulties, current political connections, and insatiable drive prepared him to become president.
What will you do in the next seven years? Of course, political office is not part of your plans, but there is more to accomplish.
Plenty has changed since you wrote a vision statement for your life. Believe everything that has happened brought you to this season and location for a purpose larger than yourself.
Give thanks for your parents, who live in Los Angeles at the time of this writing. When the entire family called Chicago home, they poured a solid foundation of faith, fitness, and financial lessons into you and your sisters. This morning you received a message that your Great Aunt Gladys passed away; your parents drove to the nursing home at 1:00 AM.
On Sunday, you talked to dad. During that early morning conversation, he said, “If you want to tell me that you received the call, I have a church for you.” On Facetime, you smiled, laughed, and replied, "If that's the call, it must be getting a busy tone or my voicemail because it's not coming through for me." So yes, he attempted to persuade you again about pastoring a church.
You rejected that offer again because God’s callings continue to manifest in ways outside of the pulpit.
Here’s a snapshot of your highlights before 40. You married a wonderful woman and created three beautiful children. At 30, you earned a Ph.D., and three years later, you moved to Mexico, where you wrote a book and the children learned Spanish. Before your 36th birthday, you started work as a professor on a Caribbean island. You ran your 4th marathon at 39 years old.
When mom received the unfortunate breast cancer diagnosis, you did your best to be there during that difficult moment. You did join your sisters in providing her with the necessary support.
At 40, you don't own a house. You lost one to foreclosure in the transition to moving abroad. Homeownership is a marker for success in Obama’s promised land, but you continue to do ok in Antigua.
The home you rent is nice, close to the sea, and within walking distance of your job. Your rental is secure because of God's grace, your household’s income, and the 130lb protective dog in the yard. Breathe and take a moment for gratitude.
During this week, you wrapped yourself with gifts of holistic health activities. You hiked, lifted weights, trained capoeira, ran 40 miles, practiced yoga, prayed, and meditated. If this letter finds you in disbelief, watch the video created to document these victories.
More exercise and mindful activities will start tomorrow. You plan to jog, practice capoeira, and write.
Kiss and hug Gabi now. She spent hours cooking you a Chicago-style Giordano's pizza and an apple cobbler cheesecake. Do you realize the blessing of having a brilliant, talented, gorgeous, and loving woman in your life?
While in that affectionate mood, find your children and tell them you love them.
Unfortunately, this week the campus lost a twenty-one-year-old student. A driver hit the young man while he crossed the street to his car after a party. I am hopeful that you don't experience a similar tragedy.
If sorrow finds you today, lean into that suffering and open your eyes; the treasure is on the other side of pain.
Let me reiterate the key messages if you're reading this in a rush. First, consider slowing down; patience and intrinsic motivations are the precursors to greatness. Second, remember to stay humble and keep learning, regardless of the public accolades. Third, family is a blessing; appreciate the small moments. Finally, continue celebrating life with activities that uplift, challenge, and support your body, mind, and spirit.