I’ve been reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I just watched the movie for the first time last night. I thought it was an amazing story and a novel idea (pun intended). And, yes, I cried…
The basic premise, if you aren’t familiar with it, is that a man can time travel from his real self to the self of the future and the past. While he isn’t able to change the course of events in his life, he is able to interact with people that populated his life (even the younger and older versions of himself).
Of course, my mind started to spin... Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could somehow give your past self advice from your future self on how to live? What would that be like? Would you listen? When I woke up this morning, this story about doing just that popped into my head. Please enjoy...
"From Another Place"
I am an old man, and tonight, I am on my deathbed. How I got here, and how the time flew away on the backs of eagles, I do not know. But it happened. And as I lay on this bed, for perhaps my last night in this world, I have but two lofty hopes, both of which I pray carry me past the life of my body. First, I entreat that when I close my eyes tonight, I will be sent to Heaven. Who wants to believe there’s any other way in the end? And secondly, dear friend, I have a letter.
This letter, please take no offense, is not for you. It’s not for my friends, my love, or my children. It’s not for the world, my enemies, or strangers. This letter is a collection of words addressed to myself, the “me” of 50 years past, the young man I once was. I wish for a miracle tonight. For I know I cannot shake death, but I aim to change the living I did between my birth and now. When I leave for this new journey between Earth and the great unknown, I can only wish that this letter finds its way back to me, and that it can save the person I was and cultivate the person I will become. I have so much to tell him of life and love and the things he would not know because he could not know.
From what I can tell, as I look back on the path that led me to this moment, one cannot control the things the world brings into one’s life. But what I can surmise is that one does have say over how one reacts to their destinies and circumstance. So in writing to my younger self, my purpose is not to dramatically change my past (as I embrace what happened), but rather to improve upon the person I was in the moments I lived the very most.
So here is my letter, dear friend. Please keep it close and lay your hopes upon in so that by some otherworldly means, the words may rise up from the page after my death and find the young man that preceded me.
I write you to tell you all the things you should know about living your life and loving others while you are upon this planet. It’s really a shame, as George Bernard Shaw once penned, that youth is wasted on the young. In youth, you have a robust life ahead of you, yet you lack the sacred wisdom to realize it. So in that neophyte stage of life there are minutes, and days, and years that are up for the squandering. Yet in your eldest state (when living life becomes but a memory) one finally possesses the skills and insight to embrace the minutes, the quotidian, and the smallest kernels of beauty in humanity and nature as an irrevocable gift from the Universe, from God himself.
Henry, I urge you to embrace whatever life brings you: whether it is a dream deferred, a death of a loved one, or a broken promise. I pray you accept these occurrences as part of a bigger picture. Accept them as you would a child, an accomplishment, or a widow in need. At birth we are but lumps of coal, but with the pressures of life and our proper care of it, the coals we once were can be transformed into diamonds.
Please do not let your pride and anger get in the way of forgiveness and moving forward. If you do, like this old man writing to you, you will have a great, great deal of regret (and continued pain, I might add). Though in the moment (by way of rejection or deceit), you may not see the virtue of blamelessness or even believe you possess the strength to forgive, you will see as the years glide that you should have dug deep enough to find those things within yourself. You could have forgiven and let go. People are far more precious than being right. Love is far more priceless than the comfort of your ego.
So with each day, when you arise, dear Henry, please listen to your wise elders and seek out their ways of erudition. The simple ignorance in youth convinces us that we are different or that we are the exception to the rules of the Universe. I can tell you, as an old man who has seen many years, that we are not. The sooner you accept that your soul is connected to every other soul that walks the plains and mountains and valleys of this Earth, you will be sure to be just as tender with each of them as you would your own soul. Because at the end of life, Henry, you aren’t caught up in your material wealth or the power you once wielded. You will only be concerned for your soul and the voyage you sent it on.
Please, take my words to heart. Rise up tomorrow as a new man, one with a young body and an old soul. To have both is a priceless miracle. In closing, I leave you with much care and affections. I leave you with the knowledge that you will live to see many years in this place. Be sure that you're spending them wisely, more wisely than I spent them, my dear self.
From another place,