My husband and I have a date night each week, a practice for which I am deeply grateful. It's a long-standing tradition which I treasure even more following a year with entirely too much time spent in our living room. We love to dance and are always looking for local live music and the little piece of old wooden floor that gives us the space to shed the week and come together in joy and grace.
Although our date nights are about spending time together, we are often joined by one or more parties from a large group of friends, invited or simply encountered at our favorite spots. This week we found ourselves enjoying a rare cocktail alone, snuggled up by the electric fireplace in a uniquely charming below-ground bar, located in what was once the largest fur vault in the west. (Yes, that was a thing. As in, store your furs with us, dahling, in our carefully climate controlled, pest-free vault.) As we chatted, my husband was reflecting on the lessons he's only just learning in midlife and the value of being ever-willing to explore and expand.
As he talked, I found myself drawn to one of my favorite conversation tools, the open-ended question. I love queries that help me see deeper into the people around me, even the man whose depths and shallows flow through the landscape of my everyday life. So I asked him...
If you could write a letter to your 17 year old self, what would you tell him?
His answer was interrupted by the arrival of friends and the evening continued with more general conversation. But my question left me thinking about that girl that I used to be, the seed that has slowly blossomed into the woman I am today. What would I tell her? Why?
I can't honestly say that, given the option, I'd choose to change the way she learned our lessons. But I do wonder, as I'm approaching the half-century mark and only just beginning realizing my full power...what could she have done in this world if she'd learned them a little sooner? If I could, here is what I would tell her:
Dear darling girl-
It's me. It's you? It's us?! Yes, I am that. Me today is you, in a few thousand tomorrows, and there are some things I want to tell you. You will never stop learning, and that learning will feed you as surely as the vegetables you'll learn to love (yes, for real) and the sunshine that has always penetrated from your skin straight into your soul. I wouldn't take that from you. But perhaps I can help you learn some things with greater ease. Pay attention, little sister, this is good shit.
There is enough. Of everything. The Universe is inherently abundant, so please stop worrying. There is enough time. Not just enough time to do all the things you have to do, but enough to do all the things you want to do. Please don't wait for those things, for the actions that bring you peace, joy, inspiration. You will have a To Do list every day of your life, including the day you die. There will always be work to do, and that work will fill as many minutes as you offer it. Allow time to expand beyond the errands and laundry, beyond goals and checking items off of lists. There is enough time for you to go outside, to play with your dog, to call a friend, to sit down to eat, to notice how you are feeling. There is always enough time, so fill it with less responsibility and more joy.
There is enough money. Dad gave you some great advice, but your subconscious is hiding some nasty ideas about money. Money is as abundant and fluid as any other form of energy, constantly available and easily converted to and from other forms. You will make plenty. You will save plenty. But this world exists always in duality. You cannot solely make and save; you also need to learn how to spend. Here, again, less responsibility and more joy. Spend freely and gloriously. Understand that this is not the same as spending irresponsibly. In fact, this is the key to making, saving, and having more. You cannot receive anything with a clenched fist. The harder you grasp the money you have, the more difficult it will be to receive more. Relax. Let the money come in, let it go out, and trust that it will come in again. There is always enough.
There is enough love. Within and around you, there is an endless abundance of love. It is the most pure and divine of all emotions, shockingly easy to give and receive. You do not need to DO anything to receive love. You do not need to BE anything to receive love. Anyone who tells you otherwise, who suggests that you will need to change yourself in any way to be loved, is not pedaling purity and divinity. Kindly disregard them. As soon as you rest comfortably in the abundant nature of love and your inherent deserving of it, you will begin to attract the people who will love YOU, the real you, all of you, just the way you are. The world is full of these people. Meeting them will be one of the greatest joys of your life.
And speaking of, love fiercely. Begin this process with yourself. Love with an open mind, an open heart, and without expectation. Love is not something given in barter, in exchange for something you wish to receive. Moving through the world with love is simply the easiest, most joyous, and most intimately connected way to live. The most determined actions you make in life should be those made in love. Love every aspect of yourself, even those you hope to improve. Work towards loving every aspect of other humans, even those you don't understand. Let love settle in, bright, where the darkness of judgement obscures most completely. Work always, not to be IN love, but to BE love.
Take a deep breath now, this one is important. It is one word, but it is everything: allow. You are already working to force life to be what you believe it should be. The fist clenched around money is also clinging to so many other things. There is a feeling that you need to control things, all things--variables, outcomes, feelings, people. But, my darling girl, control is an illusion. The only things within your control are your own thoughts and actions. These create your reality, so this is really quite a powerful measure. But even this control must be enacted with peace and trust.
Grasping, forcing, and pushing, these are actions based in lack. Go back to the beginning of this note--there is enough. There is no need to cling so tightly, and a refusal to open your hands and heart can cost you much. Let go. Allow. Go easy through this world and trust yourself to be who you need to be, where you need to be, in any given moment. Allow ease, rest, and fluidity. Allow the abundance nature of this universe to flow through you. Resistance to what is prevents what could be. Relax and trust yourself and the Universe to co-create everything you need and want.
And yes, you can call it "the Universe." You can call the force you suspect is out there whatever you want, it doesn't matter. And the spirituality that is growing within you now is perfect. It is as real as Zeus was to the Greeks, as real as Brahma to a Hindu or Jesus to a Christian. Please continue to explore the spiritual truth you feel inside of you. Religion is for the masses, spirituality is personal. Your personal philosophy will serve you well. Here, again, you can rest easy and follow what you know to be true. It doesn't matter if it's true for anyone else. No one else is here. You are all that you need.
Which brings me to my next point. Everything you need is within you, right now. You require nothing beyond what you already have. A future you (like me) may have need of things you've not yet discovered, but these things will be encountered in transit. You are complete for this moment, in this moment. As you build trust in yourself and the Universe, you'll begin to see how you are provided with more when it is needed and you are ready to receive it. Nothing will be given until its time, and nothing is needed before its time. This is part of allowing. Realize there is no need to control anything, because everything is precisely as it should be.
Instead of looking for what could go wrong, learn to identity what is already going well. Move away from trying to control outcomes and towards trying to identify and learn the lessons you're being offered in this moment. Allow learning as easily as you allow love and abundance. You are precisely where you are meant to be, and the lessons you need to learn in order to move forward are already laid out for you here, in this place. You have what you need to learn them, to graduate to the next iteration of you. This process can be accelerated, and accomplished entirely without struggle, by relaxing and trusting in yourself in this moment.
In short, little sister, relax. Life is not easy, but you can be. There is so much waiting for you, and all you need to do is be at ease as yourself. Trust--your inner voice, your heart, the knowing inside of you, and the world around you. You are a truly beautiful and powerful human being, let yourself be. Trust me, I know about these things.
I love you,