Ignoring for the moment the potential for time-shattering paradoxes caused by me reaching into the past to write you a letter (and the selfish act of me not giving you next week’s winning lotto numbers), there’s a few things I’d like to tell you.
Actually, there’s just one thing I want to tell you:
Don’t change a thing.
I’m not going to tell you to do X differently, don’t do Y, or make sure you get to Z on time. Sure, things won’t always go perfect – there’ll be ups and downs, but anyone who says there aren’t ups and downs in life is either a liar or deluding themselves.
You, upper left – you’re about to start school. There’ll be teachers you love and there’ll be teachers you don’t like at all. There’ll be friends, there’ll be people you don’t like, and there’ll be people who don’t like you. That’s life. But through it all you’ll get a great education and you’ll take joy in learning. You’ll set me on my path in life. You have my complete and utter gratitude. You’re a bit of a hero to me.
You, second from the left, you’ll have enjoyed the triumphs of primary school and be ready and eager and maybe a little bit scared about going into high school. But that’s OK, everyone else around you will be a little bit scared about it, too. You’ll all be little fish in a bigger pond. That’s life, too. There’s always a bigger pond, and if you’re not prepared to get into it, you’re not growing.
And you, you mad bastard, second from the right, you’re with me always. You’re the person who likes to pull faces at kids in other cars in traffic when their parents aren’t watching, just to make them laugh. You’re the person who imagines running up to a street proselytiser and dacking them just to find out if they’re wearing highly inappropriate underwear. You’re the person who can’t say “banana” without singing the Mah Nà Mah Nà song in your head, and you’re the person who acts silly simply because everyone around you has become too serious.
On the right at the top, you’re the one who has to go away for work, leaving friends and family behind. You’ll get to travel but you’ll also get some stress along with it. But most importantly, you’ll always come home.
Because you see, you’re all me, the one at the bottom, staring at himself in the mirror. Full of experiences, some of them sad, some of them terrible, but in equalising measures, many of them happy and some of them utterly fantastic. We’re the sum of our experiences, and we’re the sum of our interactions with the people we encounter through our lives, and if you change anything you change who you are – you won’t end up where I have. There may be times I wish I’d have turned left (it’s a Doctor Who reference, you’ll eventually get it), but it’s always been for the best in the end.
Life is good – don’t spend it regretting things you might have done differently.