Dear Me

Writing is something I attempt to do every day. I typically like to write in a leather journal with a pen. There is something about the oldness of writing by hand that I love. In a world of advanced technology, I find it charming to remain connected to the past. I have had one journal in particular for over ten years. It is a collection of thoughts that I have kept and only added to every now and then. A short while ago, I finally filled up its final pages with some of my reflections on life. I put some of my best thoughts, artistic expressions, struggles and memories into it.

I recently went back to read some of the pages from the New Year and found a letter that I wrote to myself on Dec 29, 2018. I do not remember writing it. But I am glad that I did. It was full of encouragement, joy and wisdom. It reminded me that a lot can change in a short period of time. Where I am now is not where I will necessarily be in three, six or nine months. To identify how much change can happen in a year, gave me perspective on what life can hold in ten years.

This type of recall is more profound for me than seeing my memories on Facebook or running across an old photo somewhere in the archives of social media. I know a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes when deep in thought, I would rather have a thousand words. Words have meaning in a way that photos do not. In my case with the letter I wrote to myself, the words were what I needed to hear where pictures remain silent.

The letter started off by explaining how 2019 was going to be my year. I wrote about the difficult times of 2018 and for every down there is an up. I reminded myself that I cannot always get what I want but instead to focus on what I need creating contentment in my life.

The part in my letter that encouraged me the most was a quote that I have always loved from one of my favorite books. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. It is the story of Edmund Dantes and the journey of his life. It is a story about love, pain, adventure, betrayal, revenge and ultimately redemption. The classic reads somewhat like a tome and has spoken to the heart of many. The quote takes place in a moment when Edmund Dantes is giving a speech to Albert de Morcerf who he does not know at the time is his son. Dantes is giving a toast to a room full of Bourgeoisie during the young man’s coming of age birthday party. Dantes says to Morcerf,

“Life is a storm my friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

The advice comes from the experience Dantes has had from being wrongfully imprisoned in the Chateau D’iff for 15 years. He was inspired by the boy having previously seen him stand up with courage in a moment of danger.

Now I don’t equate my problems to those of Alexander Dumas’s hero. I have a good life. I am fortunate to have been born where I was, grow up in the family that I did and be provided the opportunities that continually come my way. I have never jailed unjustly as a political prisoner or gone to bed without knowing where my next meal was coming from. But being aware of other people’s suffering is vastly important when putting my own pain into context. Regardless of our own individual struggles however, pain is real for everyone and hearkening back to the words written by Dumas gave me comfort and hope.

As I continued to read the letter, the tears began to well into my eyes as I wrote about the type of father I need to be for my girls and the kind of friend I need to be to others. I could not believe how positive and supportive I was to my future self. The words came at a time that I really needed them, I felt the opposite about myself from what I was describing. I have so many doubts about what I am capable of and whether or not I can accomplish the things in life that are important to me. The words didn’t sound like me but hearing them was essential to my emotional health.

As I finished up the letter it ended with this. “Now go out there and live. Be kind to others, be honest, be fun, be courageous and be different! Otherwise you’re not being you”. These are the ideals that I think about when trying to raise my girls.

If I want them to be comfortable with who they are as they venture through the world of self discovery, I have to provide them the tools to make them successful. In Brene Brown’s book Daring Leadership she talks about “living into your values”. I need to live into my own values in order to show my girls the importance of having values to live by. As I strive to be the best version of myself, my goal is not to be a paragon for anyone other than my daughters. The better version of me I can be, the better version of them they will become. Instilling values into them is what will ultimately make them successful.

So as I continue to write for myself or to myself, when the dust settles at the end of the day, the words I write are really for them. Whether it be an honest note about my mistakes in life or an exciting tale from my travels to a moment of truth about who I am as a person; I want them to know that life is a storm and that what we do when that storm comes is what defines us as individuals. The thought that the Count leaves his guests with and what I want to leave you with is when that storm comes… “You must look into that storm and shout: do your worst. For I will do mine!”


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Paul Bork


Paul is a blogger, businessman and father of two girls living in Denver, CO. He enjoys spending his time with…

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