This past week, I read an article written by former Washington State University quarterback Ryan Leaf for the Players Tribune. As a former rival, he may have been the most feared signal caller. After being drafted second overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 1998 NFL Draft, he admittedly flamed out and became what would be termed a “bust” in football circles.
His article was a letter to his 21-year old self. Ryan Leaf is now 40 years old, and has experienced injuries, addictions, an attempted suicide, and prison. Today, he’s living a life of sobriety and success, and chronicles his struggles in the article. What’s remarkable is that at the end, he says he wouldn’t change a thing. He says that all he went through in his life made him the person he is today. His only regret is how he treated other people. Other than that, the letter is a tough love warning of what is in store. It’s poignant, brave, and a must read. Of course, AFTER you finish reading this!
It got me thinking of what I would write to my 21-year old self 32 years later. At 21, I was just married and had the entire world in front of me. I’d tell myself that I out-kicked my coverage with my life partner; that I’d married the perfect person for me, that we’d raised two bright and beautiful daughters, that we’d scored big on a son-in-law, and would welcome in the most perfect baby ever born. I’d also tell myself that along the way, there will be many challenges to overcome, but each one will make me better, if I allowed it to. The only advice I’d give would be to enjoy the ride more; to slow down; to savor time with children and parents because it goes by so fast.
What would you write to yourself?
Be careful because if we learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that any change, even a seemingly minor one, will alter the delicate balance of your life. I admire Mr. Leaf’s observation that there is no desire to change anything, even the painful times. What this does indicate to me however is that we have the opportunity now to chart a path for our future selves. How can we improve our lives, and the lives of those closest to us, in the future? What have we learned in our past that will alter that? Mr. Leaf suggests for himself that it’s the way he plans on treating other people. For me, it will be mindful of slowing down and appreciating the moment more. That means pulling out my old Winnie the Pooh books and reading them to my granddaughter.
What about you? How will you write your future?
Quote of the Week:
“A man who has never passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.”
~ Carl Jung
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