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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 10: Write a Letter to 16-year-old-me

April 10, 2012

Dear 16-year-old-me,

I'm writing this from your future, and I know all that lies ahead for you on this path. You are a junior in high school right now, and it is the year 1966. Your greatest fear is that your friend Rick, your soon to be fiance, will be drafted when he finishes school. Many who don't go on to college go instead to the 'conflict' in Vietnam. He says he will enlist in the US Navy rather than be drafted, as he would feel safer with his feet on the deck rather than in the jungles. You want him instead to go with you 'back to Canada', where his and your grandparents grew up before coming to the states. He is saying no, he will not run away. 

I'm happy to be able to tell you that he will not be drafted: the country will, in 1970, the year he would be drafted, have the first collective draft, combining youth from ages 18 to 25 in one large lottery, and his birthday will draw a number high enough that many other thousands will go to the war before he would be called. You are both relieved at that, as you are now ready to start a family together. 

Your nightly prayer to remain 'happy, healthy, and together' will be rewarded for many years. Some years will be more challenging than others, as the country will continue to struggle with financial recession, gas shortages, inflationary prices, and eventually the demise of the manufacturing jobs that are going to other countries. Your job as a teacher will remain stable.

You will often fear that you will disappoint; you do not disappoint. You will worry about finances, watching other families reap great financial benefits for having chosen other careers; you will never be wealthy in a financial way, but you will always have enough for a home, food, clothing and transportation. It is enough.

 In time, you will make decisions with others, for others, and because of others. Some of those decisions will be beneficial for you and for those you love; some will be difficult to make and prove later to have been the wrong decision based on the wrong advice. You will make adjustments, and corrections, and you will live with Rick knowing that decisions about health are never easy, never clear, and you can only make the decisions that you will not look back on with regret. You do this, several times. You learn to trust your instincts.

You will learn that living in the northern latitudes may have affected your health, though in a different way than that of your sisters and brothers. None of them will have the diagnosis that is ahead for you, and so will never make the same decisions about nutrition and physical health that you will have to make. You will stay one step ahead of the curve in those decisions, researching nutrition and medical care and choosing to try and then to stop as you discover what the researchers are finding and slowly revealing to the public. Gradually, you will come to believe that following your own knowledge, instincts, and life lessons will guide you to make the best decisions for you, regardless of what others may suggest in disagreement.

Vitamin D deficiency will be a part of your retirement. Supplementing that and other vitamins will become important to you in your late fifties, but no one will advise you of that, and you will eventually read about it and move in the direction that will benefit you. Be confident and follow your instincts and your learnings. 

I wish I could advise you not to worry, but it is in your nature to worry, to plan, to prepare for the next challenge, and to work hard to overcome each hurdle in your path. Worry seems to work for you.

You will take a quiet advisory role in your sixties, sharing research and findings through something called a blog, where people can stop in and read and make their own decisions about what you have found. And it will be enough. They have to make their own decisions, their own changes, and their own adjustments. You may not be there to see their decisions and their results. You do not have to be there. You have to make your own decisions, and they will have to make theirs.

You will always be wary of what life will place in your path. But you will always be prepared with self-sought knowledge, with determination, and with strength that at times seems heaven-granted. 

You will find happiness in realizing that enough is simply that: enough. 

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