2018-10-10 / Editorial

YOUNG ME

Don Lively

Facebook sometimes makes me ache between the ears.

I enjoy social media as much as the next Southern baby boomer; but it can get, shall we say, tiresome.

The same posts and shares repeated over and over ad nauseam.

But every now and then, one comes across that really captures my admittedly short attention span.

"If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you say?"

Wow.

Where to begin?

Before I could start that conversation, I would need to strongly remind myself that I was just as buttheaded back then as I am now, so there's no guarantee that the young me would pay any heed to the more mature me, but let's give it a go.

Dear Young Me,

You're wasting your time mooning over that little brunette girl who spurned you for an older guy. She turned out to be an okay human being, but she did you a favor. Over the next few years, you're going to meet some of the finest ladies the Blessed South ever produced and that minor heartbreak will become just a faded memory.

Don't be too embarrassed when Daddy hands you the keys to your new car, a brand new, pea-green American Motors Hornet, one of the least cool cars ever produced in America. Trust me, you're going to have many great dirt road adventures and mini road trips in that tin can, right up until the moment you ram it into the rear-end of a stopped Buick. By the way, don't worry too much about that scar on the front of your noggin. You'll keep a full head of hair your whole life and the scar doesn't show.

Speaking of hair, stop trying to straighten yours. Yes, I know, straight hair is all the rage at your age, but one day you'll appreciate every natural wave and curl. Oh, and stop trying to lighten it. One day it will be so light that it will appear white.

You might want to consider cutting back on the bacon. I know Mama likes to fix you way more than enough, but it's that kind of eating that will eventually send you under the heart surgeon's knife and will leave yet another scar, this one down the middle of your chest. Giving up bacon might seem to be a bigger trauma than the little brunette's departure; but, well, never mind, enjoy the bacon.

Don't despair when you don't get a football scholarship. In another few years you're going to try to walk-on to your university's football team. After one week of getting knocked around like a ragdoll, you'll understand that being big and farm-boy strong isn't enough. You need a killer instinct to play at that level and you just ain't mean enough.

Try not to worry about messing up, about making mistakes while living your young life. If he hasn't already, Coach Cary will tell you one day that you learn a lot more when you lose a game than you do when you win. It's the same with life as it is with football. Those mistakes that you made, the ones that you agonized over, shaped who you are just as much as sitting through all of those Sunday School classes and church sermons when you really weren't paying attention anyway.

I'll bet you're thinking that I just advised you to spend less time in church.

Not so fast.

You need to spend more time going to Sunday School and church. When you leave for college and there's nobody to make you go, you're going to slack off. Bad idea. These are formative times and you'll be better off in the Lord's house than you are sleeping off a Saturday night. Just as your miscues and bad judgment shape you, so do those hours when you're in a pew somewhere. You might not feel it right now but as a young person, but you're absorbing a lot more than you think.

When somebody tells you that you'll need Algebra later in life, don't believe it. They fibbed. Many decades into the future, I've yet to use it. Take General Math instead.

You still have some grandparents and a whole bunch of aunts and uncles. They won't live forever. Pay more attention to them. Write down some of their stories. I promise you, you won't regret it.

Speaking of writing, start keeping a journal. Right now. Today.

That's all for now, but there's plenty more free advice where that came from.

Sincerely,

Your older self.

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