Open At The New Year

Dear Future Self,

If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through another year. Congratulations! If you’re not reading this, you’re probably dead. Sorry about that.

It’s January, and if you’re anything like me (and I’m betting you are), you’re feeling pensive. It’s dark and it’s cold and most mornings you just want to sink a little deeper into your warm cocoon of covers and throw the alarm out the window. And yet, you feel you must DREAM and PLAN and EXPECT GREAT THINGS out of the new year. Because, let’s face it, last year wasn’t that great.

(Yes, I know I haven’t lived the year yet, and maybe it was great. Maybe you won the lottery or got married or landed your dream job, you know, the one where you get paid $100,000 just take pictures of exotic places and write clever articles and star in your own YouTube channel. But, notwithstanding these possibilities, I expect–no, I know–that in some way, the year has failed you. Even if you have a hot girl now, I’m guessing she has some unforeseen deficiency, like an inability to truly appreciate your awesomeness at all times.)


Last year wasn’t that great. You misspent your money or a friend got mad or your job (still) sucks or someone died. Maybe it wasn’t a dumpster fire, maybe you have lots of great memories, but it’s January and the pressure’s on. This needs to be the BEST. YEAR. EVAR.

I understand. I really do. And even after a year of Netflix and Instagram and late nights on Steam, you feel even further behind. There’s too much to watch, to read, to visit, to buy, to experience. It’s paralyzing.

But I am writing to you, dear self, to remind you of something I have forgotten again and again. Maybe I never knew it. I’m afraid you won’t remember it either.

There was a storm last night. (Do you remember that storm?) The electricity’s been off all day and there’s a travel advisory. I’ve been huddling beneath five blankets, trying to keep warm. I’ve only a little milk, some bread, and half a bottle of ketchup. My phone’s dead and when I look out the window at the blowing snow, I think I never want to go outside again.

And so I’ve been alone and cold in the silence as the wind gnashing its teeth. I’ve found myself sitting, just sitting, and thinking, sometimes not even thinking, just being, and I’ve found I’ve forgotten silence and thinking and being. I’m a little afraid of it and of the weather and of my absurd imaginings (of freezing to death in my little house). It’s all so tentative, these days and minutes.

And I remembered, for the first time in years, how I would ride my bike around the block as a child and sing, sing these made-up songs–do you remember? I hope you do. Sometimes these songs were prayers, just words to God, little impromptu hymns, because I was happy with the wind and the motion and the weather and the time, just empty time, circling the block, alive and free and never bored.

So I write to you, future self, to remind you of this cold January day, alone, when you sang, just a little, in your living room, to an old tune that maybe you know better now. You sang to Jesus and you laughed, embarrassed, but you felt happy and not alone, warm despite the cold, full despite the barren, empty day. And you wondered if it could happen again, if the year were not so important as the day, the goals not so vital as the tune you hummed beneath your breath.

Perhaps you could write and tell me.

Your Past Self

Originally published at 4CountyMall on January 9, 2016.

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