On the first day of my Spanish class in junior high school the teacher asked us to pick Spanish names to be used in class instead of our regular names. Our text book contained a list of Spanish names and their interpretations in English. I skimmed over the list and saw nothing that inspired me – until I got to Esperanza – which meant HOPE. That was going to be MY name, because at that point in my life, hope for the future was all I had. For, you see I was a victim of bullying during my school years. I still to this day don’t know why, but I accept the fact that it happened and that it will always be a part of the history of my life. There comes a time, however, when you need to stop being the victim and take back control of your life.
One of the exercises in Week Four of The Artist’s Way is to write a letter to yourself at eight years of age, giving yourself advice. This is what I wrote,
“Lynn, you are going to go through some very tough times while you are growing up. It may seem like years and years before you break free from this emotional abuse. But it WILL happen after you graduate from high school. Persevere and have hope for a better future. Dream big dreams. Don’t lose your confidence and self-esteem, though this may seem inevitable. You are a VERY SPECIAL PERSON and no one can take that away from you. Don’t lose the spirit, imagination, and spontaneity that you now have.”
If someone – anyone - had said this to me during those years, it may have made them easier to bear, but all I had was hope.
The second part of the exercise asks you to write a letter to yourself at eighty. What would you tell yourself? What interests would you pursue? What dreams would you encourage? To me, this seemed to be a very hopeful exercise, because we were talking about my future. And I had control over that. If I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do during this time period, all I could blame is myself. Here is what I wrote,
“Keep creating your jewelry, your watercolors, and playing the piano you so longed to have when you were a child. Don’t let distractions or anxieties prevent you from pursuing these things. This will be your legacy. Don’t say “shoulda woulda coulda” when you get to be eighty. Just do it! Keep learning new things. Make friends that will be there to support you in your declining days. Travel the world. Capture it in art. Share this with others. Love each person you meet, no matter what. Live life fully one day at a time. Take nothing for granted."
What letters would YOU write to yourself at eight and eighty?