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July 21, 2012

A Message to Your Future Selves

If you've ever had the experience of running across an old diary or some letters that you or a loved one wrote long ago, you already know how interesting an experience like this can be. Often, the problems, worries, hopes and dreams that were once all-consuming have been completely forgotten. You may be surprised by your own naivety, your own wisdom, or by just how much your life has changed.

Not too long ago, I sorted through the accumulated cards and notes my husband had given me during the previous 27 years. I had been in the habit of casually putting these items in the back of a file drawer. We had moved a couple of times, and I had occasionally rearranged my files, but it had been a very long time since I had taken a close look at the collection. It was an eye-opening - and mind-opening - experience.

Amazingly, I still had the very first card he ever gave me, as a guest at my housewarming party before we started dating. There were holiday and birthday cards, casual notes on Post-Its, florist's cards, Valentines. Some were humorous, some romantic, some deeply touching. Scrawled on the back of an advertiser's notepad I read, "Happy 6 month anniversary. I love you!" Many of the greeting cards were made especially meaningful by the inclusion of heartfelt handwritten messages. I was reminded of the in-jokes we'd shared at various times, nicknames that had come and gone, and the little daily rituals that always made us smile.

I began putting everything in chronological order, sometimes with only my best guess as a guide. I bought a big scrapbook and started gluing. During the process, I would occasionally ask my husband, "Do you remember...?" We talked about how the complacency that develops with time and the ever-increasing busyness of our lives had made it all too easy to let go of some of the good habits that had nurtured our relationship during the early years.

We both wanted to re-introduce some of those old rituals into our current routine. We have our special ways of waking up together, saying hello and goodbye, taking care of small household tasks. Now, the new-old ways of doing things help make the mornings a little brighter and the evenings a little cozier. The inspiration came from the messages that had been quietly waiting so many years. Written in the moment for the people we were at the time, they also communicated some very important information from our former selves to us as we are today.

A special letter from you to your future self or spouse, or from both of you to each other, is a fun and romantic idea. But even if you don't want to make a formal project of it, saving those love letters, birthday cards and incidental notes is a wonderful way to relive happy moments. And reading them just might inspire you to try something new - or old!

1 smart person said something:

  1. I think most people save things but then never really look at them. A scrapbook or a decorated box where you can look at them sometimes is a good idea.


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