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Letters to Earth

Updated: Mar 31

I had a notebook many years ago, just as I was entering my teen years. I remember it in detail - standard school style, black and white mottled cardboard cover, my name written in careful (for me) cursive on the inside. Over time, I filled it with a running commentary on pretty much every opinion I had at the time - worries about potential animal extinctions, girls (are weird), politics, music, girls (are great), hopes for my life. On and on. But the very first entry was a note written to my grown-up self. It was a reminder that I had once been young, had viewed the world a certain way, that grown-ups sometimes (often) forget that kids are, in many ways, a different species of human, but just as important as old folks, and that I (the kid version) wanted to try to make sure I (the adult version) didn't grow up 'too much' and become 'one of those' grown-ups.


Safe to say I have avoided growing up 'too much', but whether my kid-self would agree, I'll never know.


Nor will I ever know exactly what those opinions were. Not really. I can only try to remember, since that notebook disappeared when I moved out on my own and my mother sold the family home.


When my two oldest children were young, I had the idea to make videos (yes, VHS) of myself talking about life as I saw it at that moment in time, about them at their then-current ages, the world, etc. But, following a divorce and multiple moves, those too disappeared.


Following the birth of my youngest, who is now about the age I was when I started that first set of notes, I went back to basics and started writing letters to each of the three kids, one here and there for each of them, penned at different points in time over the course of more than a decade. For the older kids, now in their thirties, the letters are intended to be opened when, as we euphemistically say in the family, I move to Florida; for the youngest, I've marked them to be opened when he hits various ages, or when I make that big move to warmer climes, although I do hope wherever I go isn't too warm.


Why bother with all this?


Because that original notebook, and my twelve-year-old thinking behind it, has never left me. Young me, trying to reach out over the years and decades to a version of me he could only vaguely envision, to remind me that he existed, with his own concerns, joys, fears...

Grown-ups have a sometimes-maddening tendency to forget or to whitewash what it was like to be a kid. We often view our own personal time in the youth-barrel as though looking at a single frame in a movie, missing the flavor and nuances of that time and life. But it works the other way too. Kids, regardless of age, often have a mental and emotional snapshot of their parents tied to a specific point in time, that doesn’t give them a chance to experience their parents’ full selves, warts and all, and to see how their parents change and evolve over time, just like they have and continue to do.


Seems a shame, in both directions.



Not having that original notebook or those early videos means my kids will only get thoughts starting with me as a youngish middle-aged guy. But I’ll keep writing the letters, now and again, and tucking them away, right up until my robot body is ready to fly.


And of course it will fly, don’t be ridiculous.


 

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4件のコメント


ゲスト
3月31日

Very poignant, and such a sweet reminder.

いいね!
返信先

I am so glad you liked it. Thank you :)

いいね!

ゲスト
3月30日

I love your posts, Mike. I remember vowing fiercely to myself when I was young (maybe 11-16) that I would never, ever, forget what it was like growing up (painful) and that someday I would write about it. I have not kept that promise to myself because I've learned that maybe it is better to let memories of pain to fade a bit, but possibly the experience of early pain informs my writing.

いいね!
返信先

I totally get it. Some folks use writing (or other creative outlets) about their pain to help heal, but sometimes the revisiting of the pain is just too much and only re-traumatizes. Thanks for reading and sharing :)

いいね!
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