Dear 18 year old Paul,
The technology exists to send you this letter from 2016. I also enclose a photo for your amusement. How it wings its way back 28 years I’ve no idea, but I trust that it does and I trust that you’ll trust me. I am you.
I remember reading this letter when I was you. I was at a really low point and I remember wanting to know details about my future but being disappointed that it didn’t provide a road map of choices to take or which investments to make. But now I understand – if I tell you about these things then you’ll live a different life than the one which brings me to where I am now – and I’m happy now! Paul – your future’s good!
So I’ll tell you what my future self told me. This letter isn’t about the journey which is yours to discover, but about the destination, where I – where we – are now. You”ll have something to aim for; a purpose.
If the timing of this letter is right, I know how you’re feeling. The girl who ran off with that bloke in a sports car. But don’t panic…it will all work out. Trust me, you’ll get over her betrayal. There’ll be more girlfriends; another will rip your heart out and feed it to the dogs, but others will teach you how to trust again. And how to love again.
So this is it: You’ll have a wife and two daughters who are crazy about you!
It takes time – a long time, but it’s all preparation, and by the time you do meet our wife, you’ll be ready. She’s worth the wait – after all, as you read this, she’s only 11! (So now you have an idea of just how long the wait will be!) She’ll make plenty of mistakes too, but she’ll learn and she’ll grow. And Paul, when she’s ready she’ll love you to the end of the world and back! It seems a long way away – and it is, but I know you need something to hope for. She’s it!
Right now, here in 2016, she’s in the kitchen. She’s silhouetted against the sunny window. She’s beautiful inside and out! Every now and then she looks over to me as I write. She sends you her love.
She’s baking our eldest daughter her birthday cake. It’s her seventh birthday. She wants a pony! Of course we don’t have the space or the money for that, but we’ve got her a doll that she’s been eyeing in a shop window for months. She’s outside now playing with her younger sister who’s 4. She’s a bull in a china shop but loves every moment of life, firing on all cylinders all of the time!
I love my job, but dropping the girls off at school and then rushing for the train to work is the worst part of my day. I hate leaving them behind. But each evening when I come home from work these 2 little bundles of joy run straight into my arms! I love it! The oldest takes it upon herself to put my work bag away and the youngest wraps herself around my leg as I make my way through into the lounge where my wife is waiting, smiling. She’s always smiling! She gives me a hug and we tell each other about our day as our girls run around the house.
Our family meals are more like feeding time at the zoo! I know you can’t imagine now how much mess a couple of kids can make – it takes us just as much time to clean up afterwards as it does to eat! Don’t misunderstand – it’s all fun! After dinner we play a few games. Our wife always tries to cheat – I suspect that she’s just trying to keep us all on our toes! The girls love their dressing up clothes too – and seeing their Dad in them! (See photo!)
Bed time for the girls is 7 pm, but by the time teeth are brushed, hair’s been untangled from pony tail elastics, hair clips, crap from the garden, pyjamas are on and stories read it’s getting on for 8 pm. So they get to sleep late and it shows the following morning, but they seem happy enough to sleep through breakfast. It’s much quieter and cleaner than dinner the previous night!
Some more about our wife. She’s a helpless romantic – remember that! She has some interests which, to be honest, bore the hell out of me, but likewise the opposite is true too. She supports me in these things, and I try to do the same for her. She’s as honest as it comes, sometimes too much, I think, so she gets hurt easily by the world around her. She’s that candle in the darkness, and she’s chosen you to help her shine her light..
I’ll finish here. When you find it tough, remember my words – it gets better! Your decisions won’t always be “right”, but if you follow your heart, then those decisions will be the right ones. Your heart will lead you to happiness. Be patient…it will come!
Paul (Your 45 year old self!)
PS: One more thing. I said I didn’t want to influence your decisions, but there’s one exception. In 2012 you’ll go on holiday and take our girls to a playground in Wales. Reverse park so you can get out quickly.