Letters to My Future Self

A print of this xkcd comic hangs on my dining room wall, signed and framed. The second panel says “We’re grown-ups now, and it’s our turn to decide what that means.” One of the perks of being a grown-up (aside from buying whatever Legos you want!) is the freedom to create new traditions.

My wife and I have created a New Year’s tradition. Every January, we write letters to our future selves. This is the second year we’ve done it, meaning it’s the first year we’ve been able to read letters from our past selves.

The idea started with my wife. One of her classes in school asked her to do this same thing – write a letter to herself in the future. The school kept the letters and gave them back years later. She said that looking through that window into her past was very rewarding.

Windows into the past are remarkable. Historians, archaeologists, paleontologists, even astronomers, devote their lives to reconstructing the past in the most precise detail they can. Why?

Sure, there’s useful information to be had. Avoiding the mistakes of history, making scientific progress, etc. These are the reasons typically trotted out, and they’re perfectly valid.

But the most fundamental reason, I think, is that we humans love to make connections. Connecting with others in the present is fascinating enough, but the past is even more tantalizing, because so often the person we’re connecting with is ourselves.

Of course, reading the letters is only half the experience. You also have to write them, and that’s important too. Writing a letter to yourself forces you to examine your life, to think about what’s most important to you right now, where you’ve been recently, where you think you’re headed.

Kind of like blogging, I suppose.

Have you created any new traditions for yourself?

2 responses to “Letters to My Future Self

  1. This year I tried a dialogue with my future self, but I didn’t write a letter. I really like that idea. What a great tradition. I might give it a try. =)

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