This month Chapter writer Dena asked me to write letters with the goal of strengthening my relationships. She felt it might be a good process to help me sort out what I felt my purpose might be. Maybe she secretly knew that I would find the process to be part of what my purpose is. She also asked that I write a letter giving advice to my past self (10 years back). Writing letters has always been the most expressive and best way for me to communicate ideas and connect with others, so I welcomed the task this month.
I’ve actually been writing letters outside of writing the blog throughout this entire year long process but I must admit, I have not yet written a letter to myself. In chapter six last year, I tested out what it would be like to interview myself. It was an enjoyable weird experiment. Since then I have not written any formal letters or given myself any of the advice I so often dish out to others. I found this exercise to be quite helpful. Before doing so, I spent the last week reading over my prior chapter posts from the Living Chapters project. In a sense I consider these posts to be letters and advice to myself more than anyone else. I figured reading my own words would not only help me in my current wild card task but would also give me fodder for my writing letters to my past and future self.
I wish I had tried this earlier. I had no idea how helpful giving advice to myself 10 years ago could be. In writing my letter I realized that the many things that I was unsure of then or that caused anxiety at that time, had all been worked out in one way or another over the past 10 years. I also realized that even if I had the chance to give advice and change anything, I really would change very little of the wandering path my 10 year younger self was about to embark upon. These realizations give my present self a certain comfort and confidence that I sometimes lack when dealing with current difficult life circumstances and wondering about the future. The following letter may be of little interest to an outside reader but I thought I would include it anyway. In it I shared some honest advice to myself. Writing this gave me a solid sense of grounding, hope and excitement about the wisdom and advice I’d have for myself in 10 years time. Where and who were you 10 years ago? What advice could you give yourself for the next 10 years?
It’s May of 2004 in your world and its hard to believe but it is me, I mean you, writing to you from 10 years in the future. Don’t worry… its not so bad. You’re almost 40 now but still not OLD! You still have a ton of energy, haven’t fallen into a rut and are still doing things that surprise almost everyone around you including yourself! Life is for the most part pretty darn good! I am writing to try to put your mind at ease and give you a bit of advice. I know you are feeling a bit nervous and excited at the moment. I seem to remember that the Spring of 2004 brought huge changes. You may feel that it is crazy or risky to be moving out of your home, leaving your job, and crossing an ocean to take on a new traveling and artistic adventure at the same time. If I could give you any advice about your anxiety or trepidation on all this new change while moving puzzle pieces around in your life, I would tell you to relax, enjoy and pace yourself! Things work out for you! They really do. Within the next 10 years you will somehow move homes, changes jobs, travel to a new country every year and reinvent yourself more times than you can imagine. And somehow you do it better each time you do it. This trip to Ireland that you are about to take is just the beginning of many foreign excursions you will take leading you on your path of discovering and living out your purpose.
My main advice to you now is to just keep doing what you are doing. Stay open and alert, be fearless and continue to follow that keen intuition you have as well as your solid and reliable common sense. Sharpen your skills along the way though. Don’t put down the camera! Your passion for photography is key in almost everything you will do from now on out! And listen up, please start writing more now! You will need those skills in 10 years and also will be so happy to have some of the amazing stories you are living out now on paper to share. Speaking of stories, you have done a great job luring all sorts of amazing individuals into your life year after year! Keep that up, but as you do try to keep them in your life when possible! Collect their stories. Write them letters. Reflect more as you are moving so quickly from one place to the next. Keep jumping but take with you the lessons that you’ve learned from one place to the next and hold onto the amazing connections you will make along the way. Last but not least DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF – take it from me, (I mean you!) You are on the right path, YOU ARE NEVER LOST each time you feel confused or overwhelmed – just ground yourself in the place where you are even if it feels foreign – enjoy it for what it is. No matter how foggy or foreign, difficult or strange, uncomfortable or upsetting it may seem – Make the best of your current situation and simply change it if it is unhealthy for you or others in your life. Honestly, you do not really need this advice you will figure it out, you always do. I just wished… I mean hope for you now, that you will give yourself a bit more credit for all that you do and all that you are. Fill yourself with much confidence and don’t allow external situations or people to shake your strength or devalue your self-worth.
Don’t worry about defining your purpose just continue to engage, connect and reflect what and who you are – and don’t forget to have FUN in the process.