Kirby: The me from 1974 wrote me a letter

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Published: June 1, 2014 12:01PM
Updated: June 2, 2014 10:06AM
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Robert Kirby, Tribune columnist

Today is my birthday. I’m a million years old. I read somewhere that the more you complain, the longer God makes you live.

Like most people my age with similar life experiences, I never expected to be this old. I’m supposed to be dead. I have a letter that says so.

Want a really good laugh? If you’re relatively young, write a letter to yourself today. Put it away and don’t touch it. Then open it in 40 years and find out just how smart you were not.

I wrote a letter to myself in 1974. It was a statement regarding my beliefs about life, the future, the past, assorted predictions and where I planned to be in 40 years.

The letter was an assignment from my LDS mission president, his attempt to convince 200 kids barely out of puberty the importance of goals and life planning.

Of the 11 points I made in the letter to myself, I got five completely wrong, three half right, and one almost right. The other two I apparently had no idea what the hell I was writing about then and still don’t.

“I do not plan to actually die because everyone knows the 2nd Coming will be here before that happens and me and my family will hopefully be transformed with the righteous.”

There’s some other stuff. I intended to become a master jeweler and live in a secluded manor in the Aragon region of Spain. I would marry, have several children and then, when the world had finally come to appreciate me, the heavens would roll back and the Lord would gather us all up.

Shut up, I’m serious. Or I was at the time. Right now I’m being embarrassed. How did someone so full of himself live this long? Oh, yeah. Right. That complaining thing.

It’s lucky my plans didn’t work out. Somewhere along the way I got slightly smarter. I married well and had three daughters who paid me back for all the crap I pulled on my parents.

My kids and grandchildren live nearby. They all still speak to me. I have a job that almost never requires being shot at. My bills are paid and my closest friends — Sonny, Killer, Bammer and Larry — are only semi-bad influences.

As revealing as a letter to myself from 40 years ago is today, what would have been even better is a letter back then from myself 40 years in the future.

Suppose in 1974 I had received a letter from the old-man version of myself? What would I have to say today that would help the moron I was then? I’ll give it a shot.

“Dear Dumbass. Pay attention because I’m going to tell you how to significantly reduce the number of scars you’re headed for, including the really ugly one on your leg that you don’t know about yet but will hurt for the rest of your life.

If you want to be happy when you get to be this age, it’s easy. Marry well, treasure your kids and find a way to work mostly for love instead of just money.

P.S. Monkeys bite really hard. You’re going to need to know that in about two weeks.”

On second thought, I don’t think I would send me a letter at all. True happiness comes to us from learning what’s important. We can’t get that if we avoid the pain of the education.

In half an hour the grandkids will start showing up with handmade birthday cards. The pictures of me drawn on them will look like someone Roto-tilled a drunk walrus.

The fact that I made it this far in order to receive them will make me happy enough.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.