Last night my kids were watching La Bamba. The scene where Ritchie Valens accepted an ill-fated seat on the airplane came on, and I said out loud, “Don’t do it, Ritchie!” As if my warning had the power to change the ending of the movie. To stave off the young star’s death. Have you ever done this before? Tried to will a new ending to a movie or book you’ve seen or read previously, hoping against hope that this time, maybe just maybe, Ritchie won’t get on board that plane, and he won’t die in a soybean field outside of Clear Lake, Iowa?
Sadly, it never works. Try as you might, you can’t change the past.
Earlier in the week, I was watching How I Met Your Mother, and there was a scene where twenty-years-from-now-Ted and twenty-years-from-now-Barney were talking to the present-day versions of themselves, warning them against mistakes they were about to make. I did this myself once, writing a letter to my past self telling
him me to chill out, life was about to get really good. But that didn’t work either. I still didn’t listen to myself! Damn stubborn Taurus…
I was reading a blog post last week where Honie Briggs wrote a letter to her present self. She knew that her past self wouldn’t heed her advice, either. I left a comment suggesting that one of us write a letter to our future self – the only variation on this theme still unexplored – and somehow that turned into a high-noon type of challenge in which we both decided to write letters to our future selves. Which was fine by me! After all, when I was challenged to explain my dislike for crows, I rose to the occasion. A letter to my future self would be a piece of cake!
Only, not really. Who knows what paths twenty-years-from-now-Mark will embark upon? I can only guess at where I might end up. Hopefully not in the loony bin, hahahahahahahahahahaha …..err, sorry.
But let’s give this a whirl anyway. And, here’s Honie’s.
Thought I’d drop you a line, since a face-to-face conversation is impossible. You’re probably deaf in one ear from all the awesome concerts you attended over the years, anyway! How about that Rolling Stones show in 2027? Man, that Mick Jagger could move for somebody pushing 85! Speaking of moves, I hope you still can…even if it requires a replacement hip.
Since this isn’t a two-way conversation and you can’t let me know winning lottery numbers or the outcomes of the last twenty Super Bowls or anything, I guess I’ll do the talking. I know you’re staring down some monumental changes in your life right now: Medicare, Social Security, and retirement. If they still exist, of course. These things may make you feel old, but remember, you’ve still got a beautiful, younger wife. Happy Anniversaries, by the way! You’ve now surpassed your first marriage, and then some. Never knew you could be so happy, did ya? I loved reading your books, by the way. All of them. Or should I say, I loved writing them? This talking-to-yourself-across-the-decades thing is confusing! By the way, unless you’re driving/flying a Mini Cooper with wings, I’m going to consider the future a great, big disappointment. (Racing stripes are optional).
They say that wisdom comes with age, and you’ve probably got a thousand pieces of advice for me, but this is my turn to speak, old man. All I can say is, as old as you may feel right now, remember this: you’re always going to be older. (Well, until you die, but hopefully that’s still a long ways away yet). I remember how I used to feel like I was pushing the boundaries a bit, hanging out in clubs and listening to bands in my 40s when the majority of the crowd was comprised of twentysomething hipsters, but I was just a kid then! And so are you. 64 is the new 51, right? Or something like that. So, I implore you, go all out and enjoy your retirement! You and Tara hop in that RV (you do have one, right?) and travel across the country. Visit the Cadillac Ranch and the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine and all the kitschy places you can find along the way. Have adventures! You are still Clark Griswold, right? Don’t let the fact that you’re in your sixties stop you from living! Hey, your parents are that age now, and they are still jetting all over the world! (They’re probably still jetting all over the world). Live, laugh, and love. That’s the only piece of advice I can give you, but I think it’s pretty solid. Well, that, and stock up on Viagra. You dirty dog, you.
Peace out, old