Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.
Step into my Time Machine and follow me back 10 years…doo-doo-doo-doo…
It’s 2004, November. I wouldn’t look for me in a coffee shop, though. I think I’ll poke my head into the neighborhood dive…yup, there I am, hunched over the bar, making small-talk with the bartender, belting down a beer and putting away a pack of smokes. I’m 51-years-old, but feeling like I’m on my 9th life.
I tap myself on the shoulder, but before I turn around I catch a glimpse of myself standing behind me…
“Whoa, ” says younger me. “Are you..?”
“Yeah,” I shrug. “But don’t worry, you’re not dead or anything. Let’s sit over here where we can talk.”
Settling at a corner table overlooking a dreary day, I order a Makers on the rocks and turn to smile at young me, who is staring at me curiously. “What?”, I ask.
“How old are you? Those jowls are quite pronounced.”
“Shut up. I’m currently residing in 2014 and you’ve always known the jowls were inevitable.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know I’d look so much like Mom. Oh, well, at least I haven’t quit drinking.”
“No, but I did finally quit the ciggies.” I sip my bourbon, staring quietly at myself as myself stares quietly back. ” I wish I could tell you more, but I can only share 3 things…
The most challenging thing you will face in the next 10 years is facing you right now. You have fallen apart this past year. Your daughter is very ill. You have just returned from your 4th trip to NYC, the one you hope is the last spent at Mt. Sinai. You have slowly, sadly, let go of any hope of spontaneous healing or miracle cure and you have committed to simply supporting her and the decisions she makes, trusting her and Eric to know what’s best, and letting go of any delusion that you can control whatever happens. Your marriage is on the rocks, and you’re struggling to determine which way to turn. You think you’ll never work as a nurse again, believing that the women who hated you had good reason. Your son seems unhappy and a little lost, but you can’t seem to cheer him or guide him. Your birth family blew up last year and you still feel a hole in your heart where they used to live. The house you bought to save your marriage is a money pit.
Good Tidings! You will not only survive this challenge, but you will overcome! Melissa’s Crohns is still a bitch, but stable. We are still married, happily, enjoying our beautiful home. You are working as a nurse in a job you love, though looking forward to retiring. Michael is still an Eeyore, but he and Jessica are married and living in Evansville now. You are free from the pull of your birth family. Everything is really all right now…
The most rewarding thing about the last 10 years is the wisdom acquired with living life, learning lessons. Every mistake, every blunder, each gaffe and miscalculation has resulted in a treasure trove of understanding, finally. Just don’t worry… In fact, Everything that you are worried about happening right now Never Happens! On the other hand, many problems appear that you did not anticipate. It becomes much easier to live in the plain old here and now. As time goes on, it becomes more clear that not a moment should be wasted on anger and the antidote is forgiveness, for yourself as well as others.
The most fun thing you have to look forward to in the next 10 years is…… Grandchildren!! Melissa has 2 daughters, Emma, 8, and Eliza, 3; Michael has 2 daughters, Olivia 6, and Samantha, in utero (due 2/28). They are sheer joy, unadulterated love, and complete bliss! And Walt Disney World Really, Truly, Honestly Is the happiest place on Earth…”
Young Me has tears streaming down her relatively-unlined cheeks, and so do I as I reach across the table and pat her hand…
“Oh, and give up the beers, honey… you’re going to gain a lot of weight and it’s a drag losing it.”