For delivery on: December 23, 1978
I am glad you found this letter. This is going to be hard to believe but you are going to write it someday. I know it doesn’t make sense, but stay with me.
First of all let me prove I am you. I know that you like drinking milk out of the plastic Budweiser stein with the wood panel design. And that you feel crummy that Mom mocked you so much for spending $6 (“what a waste of money”) for the coolest toy ever – the Evel Knievel “Super Stunt Cycle” figure with gyro launcher -- at Chris Goldman’s yard sale and so now you don’t even want to play with it anymore.
But that might not be enough to convince you that I’m writing from the future. What if I tell you who will win the Falcons-Eagles game tomorrow? I know you are excited – Atlanta’s first playoff game ever. It is going to be a nail-biter. The Falcons will be down 13-0 going into the fourth quarter. Your soon-to-be-favorite-quarterback, Steve Bartkowski, gets picked off and the Eagles are knocking at the door to salt it away. Pretty bleak. But look at that – we recover a fumble near the goal line. Bartkowski leads the Falcons downfield and finds Wallace Francis for a 49-yard strike. A couple plays later we get into the end zone to cut the lead to 13-7.
On their possession the Eagles go three and out and we get the ball right back. But we sputter and face third and ten. Bartkowski throws up another deep prayer and connects with Francis again. This time it’s for a touchdown to take the lead 14-13. There is still 1:37 on the clock though. The Eagles march it to the 16 yard line and line up for the game-winning field goal. But the kick sails wide and the Falcons win!
Don’t tell anyone that you know this or have this letter. But make a big bet against Uncle Art because he doesn’t think the Falcons have a chance. He is wrong.
Right, so you know that this is for real. Pay attention while I tell you some truth about you (us). You are very talented. Don’t fret about figuring out what your talents are. Just keep doing what you like regardless of what that may be. What’s important is to keep doing those things you enjoy and your talents will reveal themselves. Whatever you doesn’t inspire you, do less of. Sure you have obligatory schoolwork, like multiplication tables. But you don’t have to spend a lot of time on stuff that doesn’t excite you. Trust me, technology is going to be amazing and you won’t have to do math in your head.
Instead, put your heart into whatever energizes you. Like riding your bike. Or reading books, playing the guitar or gluing together model boats. Let the activities lead you. Learn from them. Along the way someone is going to tell you that doing those things are not important. That they are a waste of time or will not turn into to some kind of “job” later in life. Don’t believe them. They are not right. You’ll think you should listen to them, because they’ll likely be adults. But here is a secret – not all adults are right. Yep, some of them are completely clueless.
And just because you are a kid doesn’t mean that your gut is wrong or your heart is leading you astray. Far more often than not, you’ll be right. Your intuition is the best compass you are ever going to own. Any activity gets your creative mind turning is worthwhile. Like reading? Then seek out new books, go to the library. Learn about the authors you read. Maybe try writing your own stories.
Now, some hard truth. Even if you do all that, you’re going to get hurt. You’ll meet people that, because of ignorance or malice or their own suffering, will cause you pain. You’ll be mistreated, teased, neglected and otherwise violated. Sometimes by people you trust, even family. You will get your heart broken. You will be told you are not good enough. You will do the right thing, the best way you know how, and will not be rewarded. It will not be fair.
But don’t quit. Follow your heart and your instincts. Every day spend your creative energy doing what you love and thinking about how you can do more of it. Figure out how doing what you love can benefit someone else.
Do it with abandon and passion. Have complete and utter faith. If you do, everything will work out. Maybe not right away, or in the way that you first envisioned. But in the end it will be right. It will be good.
Trust me. After all, I was right about the Falcons winning. Just don’t bet on that too often.
I have a variety of interests and enjoy sharing my reflections on them here.