Dear Mr. Goodson,
Greetings! So…2004? How about Buffalo, NY? Would you believe you've been away so long you actually feel NOSTALGIC for it these days? I can hear you now…"Surely by now, I've climbed mountains, learned new languages and become a wandering gamer-nerd like I've always dreamed! What do I care for Buffalo, New York?!" Well, there's quite a bit of good news here!
For one, you will do exactly that. You're going to spread your wings and soar across oceans to see some exciting new countries that will challenge your wit and lust for adventure. You will see if other languages are harder to learn than Spanish was in college. Remember those days spent dreaming about hitchhiking across a nation with only a backpack and time as your companions? You wrote about it here. Mountains will exist by the dozens and you will climb them on three continents. You're going to do all of that, and then some!
You're going to get fit. Never as fit as the Master Ninja that lives in your heart, but quite a bit stronger than you are now. You'll get to do stuff other than pet store retail (*gasp!*) and gain a pretty diverse skill portfolio that ranges from chainsaw repair to teaching children who don't speak English. You'll rediscover religion on several occasions and see some of the most varied and gorgeous landscapes on the planet. You'll always be greeted with positive energy and curious faces where you go, and your camera will document quite a bit, to the delight of your friends. You still don't know how to swim…And don't particularly care to learn.
Some things will become a lot easier. That gay thing. Yeah, YOU know what I'm talking about. Can you believe you laugh about throwing that out there, now? That you tell amusing stories about picking up men in China as an icebreaker when you meet people? That you actually DO pick up men? I know…You don't believe me. Give it time. Life moves at its own pace; even if that pace feels glacial at times. I've come to see that if you want it, it will happen. Simple as that. But you have to take steps to MAKE IT HAPPEN, and you will, very soon. Or rather, life will give you an unsettling kick in the ass that will get the ball rolling. Be strong, because it will hurt, but lead to great things.
Words to live by, for sure. Don't forget that. If ever there was something I could share with you, it is this: Be strong. If it hurts, it will make you stronger if you open up to the experience and live it fully. And always open up to an experience. Closing yourself off to the flow of life only sets the stage for more pain and a lessened quality of life. Always say "yes," if something happens you can't change. Yes. I accept this. I will do it with all my heart and experience it fully.
Stop caring so much about public opinion. You hate being so PC and chill because you feel like you get walked on, but that won't ever go away, not really. You'll get a different sort of confidence. One that says "I don't give a fuck" when people play games because they know you won't say anything, and then they shortly disappear. Because you'll decide to simply stop playing the game, rather than losing every turn. It's a subtle change in perception. You'll see.
Open up more to human beings. You're still a bit closed off, and don't really like talking about yourself, unless beer is involved. (Oh, random note: beer is in fact, GOOD. Just wait till you get ahold of Gin!)
You will walk a twisted road, and always take the the right fork. Really, there IS no wrong fork…All you need to do is bumble forwards a bit, and the Universe takes care of the rest. Lao Tzu calls that "Wu Wei: Action without Action." It will make sense later, but never entirely. Oh, and you need to know one final thing. Those friends you have now? That you take for granted since you've gone through high school and college with them, and they've always been around and the way they are? People in real-life are NOT like that. AT ALL. Treasure them, love them in your own way (we both know you're bad with phone calls and letters) and never forget all they gave to make you who you are. Because when your eyes open and you really begin to understand the world of form and the mind, you'll realize what you had and it will be a bittersweet feeling. But nostalgia serves no one, least of all you.
Be prepared to grow and flower as a human being and to be challenged in ways you never imagined the moment you left. Just remember to keep on putting one foot in front of the other and stop and smell the flowers while you do. Things are so much more interesting that way!
Live long and prosper, DaLi (大力)!
Earl Franklin Goodson Jr.
PS: …that last bit will make sense in about 6 years. Sorry ;c) In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the ride!
This letter is an idea I've had for some time now. I'm not sure why, but it seemed really appealing to write a letter to my anxious, unsure past self, and give me some vague clues to the future. We all spend large amounts of time wondering where we'll be in five, ten years, and this place is perfect for these kinds of musings. Here's to 7 interesting, fairly well documented years as a human being on this Earth of ours!