Prompt: Write a letter to your younger self. Thank them, praise them, scold them, comfort them—engage in whatever way you feel led with one or many versions of your younger self. Whatever comes to mind.
Now, let’s shift to exploring your older self. What would you want to say? To ask? To request? Tell your older self what you are doing now in service of them. Tell them what the ideal situation might look like when you finally meet—where might you be living, what type of work might you be doing, who you might be spending time and space with.
Your snowglobe is your small town, mom and dad and brothers under one roof, all grandparents and cousins a bikeride away. I see you, on the tricycle, climbing a tree, chasing butterflies and laying eye to eye with beetles, swinging on the monkey bars, jumping off the deck into layers of fluffy snow. While you will run into the boundaries of place and get frustrated with an urge to get out and fly away, I want you to think about what having community is, being in community is.
And when the adults talk in quiet murmurs in the next room, and you’re confused when you walk in and they shift in their seats and upspeak in quick idle chatter, I can explain that too. They think they’re doing the right thing, protecting you. They went through so much hardship, sacrifice, working their fingertips numb and juggling so many side hustles, through aneurisms and cancer and house fires and wars and heart attacks and the lesser traumas of life laced between. But, you don’t know about any of that. Maybe only heard about it in a bedtime storybook about heroes or in your social studies class or a passing prayer in church. They deem that it is best to shield you from their lived experiences and wounds, because life is getting better for you and your generation, the middle class is rising, we have privilege, women can be astronauts. Maybe you will be spared – Yes, yes, that is what their hard work and dedication and intention will do. Or maybe life and its expansive messiness will come soon enough. And it will. And the shock that you’ll feel, because this wasn’t to be your life, you were somehow going to make it through bobbing and weaving your way around trauma and hardship and barriers to be fine, just fine because that only happens to other people. And that loss of innocence to come might be hardest of all, require more grit than the trauma itself. You, unequipped to handle grief as a foreign object slamming into your life, alone and crying in a dark room. My whisper to you through this bend in time is to know hardship will come no matter what, no matter how, no matter who, no matter why. Breathe in child, and delight in what you have now.
It is what I am doing for you too, my dear future self. I hope I get there.