I was rifling through various boxes in the basement, looking for my music folder (whose location still remains a mystery), when I happened upon an old letter addressed to unnamed friends and written by myself in high school. The pages number four, and are dutifully typed out, double-spaced, and adorned with simplistic colored marker illustration.
I say, when I become famous, this piece will be worth a pretty penny.
Obviously, I never sent the letter out, nor ever intended to do so, but hid it away in a safe place for the older me to find at an undetermined date. And, to pay homage to the self-regulated tradition, I paused and read it instead of passing it over to continue on my quest for my beloved music binder, and realized…
My 15-year-old self was speaking, and rather poignantly.
I admit my writing style hasn’t changed much since the time the letter was written — I often still become thoughtful (sometimes morosely so), spiritually deep, reflective, and am quite frequently [disgustingly] optimistic — and I’m not sure whether to label that realization as a positive or a negative:
- Despite my experiences as an adult, have I managed to maintain the youthful hopefulness so many others often lose when they plunge head-first into the “real world”?
- Or, despite my experiences as an adult, have I learned nothing new?
- Was I then “old for my age“?
- Or, rather, am I disappointingly “simple-minded” now?
I’ve come upon a few of these “letters to me” in the past years. I’ve always read them and then tucked them back into their hiding places to find another time, to remind myself of those same things yet again years down the road. Maybe when I’m 80 and grey-haired and moving out of my undoubtedly beautiful log cabin-eqsue home in the Appalachia into the local retirement community to play golf the rest of my days, I’ll find these scattered pages again and reflect on the teenager I was, and who that girl has become and what she has accomplished.
But I wonder if my letter is wasted on selfishness.
Recently I started volunteering to assist with music worship in the small church my husband and I attend in Cannon Falls, MN. As with all new happenings, people were curious and politely asked me about my interest and background in music. No matter how the conversation started, I’d invariably end up making this statement somewhere along the line:
“I’ve been blessed with this talent. It seemed silly to sit at home and play songs for only me to hear and enjoy, so I decided to do the ministry.”
Can’t that same rule apply to other things, like money, time, wisdom, love, food, and experiences? All these things are gifts, or fruits, of our labors that we are able to enjoy privately and with others. Take money, for instance: it’s meant to be spent and, while it’s nice (and quite necessary) to take yourself to be treated every now and then, isn’t it more fun to take a friend to dinner, or a loved one to the movies, and share that together? Sharing the experience makes the money more valuable, and therefore a greater blessing than if you were to simply enjoy it alone.
Therefore, I’ve decided to open up my private stash of letters and share them here, with you fine folks, starting with the one addressed “Dearest Friends“. I was going to just scan the pages in at first, so you could read through it as I do, deciphering words as they maneuvered in between posies and hearts galore, but then I didn’t want to distract from the words themselves (or run into any image uploading issues), so I’ve transcribed it here. I promise they are typed just as they were back then: no edits or corrections made and all misspellings intact.
If you do take a few minutes to read this letter, please comment on my Facebook page letting me know what, if anything, in this letter speaks to you, whether it be a phrase, a line, a word, or a concept. Let me know, good or bad, how (and if) this post has offered you some blessing or encouragement; if it has bubbled up frustrations or left you reflecting.
Even more, if this letter gets you thinking of someone close to you, I ask that you share it with them by posting their name in the comments.
And, if I may rephrase a famous line from Casablanca…
Here’s to the kids of ourselves, looking at us,
P.S. I’ll continue to add to this collection as time (and discovery) permits, so continue to check back for any updates, or Like my Facebook page to be notified of any new posts in my Letters to Me collection or others.
Letters to Me Collection
Dearest Friends. Posted August 18, 2014. Written circa 1998.