If you’ve ever attempted to watch television in another country, beware. Granted, the world beyond our shining seashores has adopted much of our American pop culture over the last few decades, so it’s not entirely impossible to find something on the telly in English. But channel surfing takes on a whole new meaning across the pond. Still, having a friend who has years of experience riding these electronic waves of confusion and babble is beneficial, so I turn to him to be my “TV guide,” if you will.
Just the other night, we stumbled upon one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. We had seen it about twenty-seven times each, but it’s one of those films you can watch numerous times and be just as entertained with each particular viewing. Toward the end of the movie, Red (Morgan Freeman’s character) sits through his umpteenth parole hearing and launches into a seemingly defeated diatribe about the pointlessness of such a charade and asks to be promptly left alone. Throughout his discourse, Red conveys an imaginary conversation with the younger man “he doesn’t even remember” to be him, stressing the things he would tell him if such a dialogue were possible. Of course, we know this to be physically impossible. But it doesn’t stop one from wondering what that would be like, does it?
If you could have a conversation with the younger you, what would you say? I asked myself the same question, and here are some of the things I would tell the 18 year-old me, in letter form. I hope all of you take some time to do this little exercise as well. (Also, there’s a neat website called futureme.org that lets you send an e-mail to yourself in the future. Check it out.)
Look, I understand that it’s 1997 and that you haven’t received a physical letter since 1993, but I thought I’d send you one anyway … from the future. This is you, in 2012. Yes, I am you, Will. Fourteen years later. I know that sounds ridiculous, even for your imagination. But you’d be amazed at what technology can do in 2012. Flying cars, matching silver unitards, and the ability to write to you as yourself from the future. Cool, huh? I mean, you don’t even know what a Facebook is yet, either. But just find a guy named Mark Zuckerburg and become a very good friend of his, OK? And, no, this isn’t one of your buddies playing a joke on you. (Besides, none of them can write as well as you do, anyway … ). OK, I was kidding about that last part. Still, this is you, in 2012. Here are some things I need to tell you. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short and in list form so you can keep track of them easily.
Be nicer to your brother. He’s going to be rich and successful one day. You guys will become best friends, but it takes a little longer, since you’re such a jerk to him at times.
Value the time you have with your sister. I know she just got married a few days ago, but spend more time with her and her husband. And be nicer to him, too. He’s a good guy and loves her very much.
I don’t know how you did it, but you got it right with your parents. Still, you had a stage in your twenties where no one could tell you anything. You really knew it all. But here’s a hint. You didn’t and still don’t.
You’ve made a ton (and I mean a ton!) of great friends along the way. Still, you’ve allowed some friendships to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, you can’t rescue them all, but some still have hope.
Will, you ended up dating a lot of girls. And they were all wonderful in their own way. But you’re still single. Sorry. Regardless, make sure you treat them like you’d want your sister and mom to be treated. Remember, they are someone’s sister and future mom.
Don’t worry, the Lakers win the NBA title in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010. I know, right?! That’s all I’m going to tell you about sports, though. Deal with it.
You have a bunch of great jobs and careers ahead, but writing is your thing. No matter what you do as an occupation, start writing and keep writing. It’ll all be worth it.
Exercise more, eat less, and drink lots of water. Also, student loans are OK, but credit cards are not. And stop bleaching your hair platinum blonde. Not a good look, dude, even if it is the ’90s.
Finally (and I cannot stress this enough), your relationship with Christ is the most important thing in the world. I know I’ve shared with you some instances you could improve upon, but none of it matters except for Him. Yet, it’s also why everything else matters. Weird, huh? Still, you simply must live everyday for Him. No days off, no exceptions, no excuses. Please. You’ll thank me later.
Sure, man, there are a million and one other tidbits I could share with you, but where would the fun in life be then? You’ll be glad I left most things a mystery.
Oh … one last thing. Call your granddad right now and tell him you love him. Right now.
You think about that, Will…
Will Montgomery is a Christian writer and speaker living in Nashville. He wants to hear from you on his Web site, WriterWill.com. Also, be a part of his day on Twitter at @Writer_Will.