A letter of dreams from my twenty-five year old self

I recently cleaned out some boxes of memories and came across this e-mail that I had written to a friend. It was sent on July 25, 2000 and it’s weird to think of myself at that age. Some might yearn for being younger, but 25 was a tough year. I was a bit lost and directionless and in a job I hated. I was just trying to figure out how to live. It’s nice to see that I grew out of that funk and it’s funny to see that some of the things I was talking about at 25 are the same things I’m talking about at 38. So, I know myself very well, but maybe it also means I spend a lot of time talking and dreaming and not enough time doing (this is a recurring theme in what I write here, I know). Here’s the e-mail as it was typed with no edits, except at 25 I was going through a lazy-no-caps phase in my e-mail correspondence, and now I use capital letters. I did notice a funny slip, where I was referring to self-deprecating humor, but I mistyped it as self-depreciating humor. In those days that mistake fits; my low self-esteem was beginning to diminish and demean myself. Luckily, I’m better in that regard and I’ve grown away from that, I think.

I realize it’s good to pose those big questions for ourselves and to answer them from time to time. How do your answers change as life goes on? What are those questions for you? Can you help someone along by asking them the big questions of life and then giving them the time, space, and silence to listen without judgement, and with encouragement?

Here’s a silent thank you to the man who prompted those questions for me at 25 and helped plant the seeds to moving and dreaming and doing. We’re no longer in touch, but it’s nice to know that some people, while only in our lives for a short time, have a long and lasting impact. Thank you for all those lunches and talks by the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Tom.

Here goes:

July 25, 2000

Hola Tomas,

Good to have lunch with you. I like when several people are there, but I think I appreciate one on one with you more so. Lunch bunch is still fun, though.

Well, I’m whittling away at my extra hours and thought I could maybe share some of what we talked about at lunch. It occurred to me at some point that I hadn’t shared very much about myself, which is kind of odd. I’m not usually holding back to people, especially ones I care about and am getting to know. You asked about one goal (I can’t remember long or short-term, now.), and I think it’s hard to think of just one. On the way back from lunch I realized that it isn’t  so difficult. My goal is to live my ideals and to make sure my praxis is my practice. That’s a broad enough goal that would include lots of thinks like weaning myself from my car and most of my belongings (especially the unnecessary ones). Things I’d like to do in this lifetime, in no particular order: write a book, grow all my own food, visit another continent (we talked about responsible tourism before and we had similar views–so I think I need to consider what fits most of the criteria), build a straw bale house (the whole thing), live with someone I love at least once (as in a relationship), fall in love and be in a relationship that lasts at least 2-3 years (That might seem silly, but I have yet to have that and I’d like to try it for longer than a year or so.), live in a cabin away from most things for a year–preferably in northern Wisconsin or the UP of Michigan (do a bit of escapism), not have children, live as an oblate for a period of time in a Benedictine Monastery, live with the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato (not necessarily as an oblate, but as a volunteer for room and board for a short period of time (their connections to religion and the environment are inspiring to me)), bike or backpack across the country, learn sign language, learn to tango, write for High Country News, spend time in jail for my beliefs (probably related to civil disobedience on peace issues), work and live on an organic farm for some time, live in an intentional community in both a rural and urban setting (besides the School Sisters or the monastery), learn to make peace with the past, skinny dip in Lake Superior every month of the year (I’ve done about 7 or 8 months, but I’d like to do it all within a year), learn to play the mandolin or banjo, learn to become a competent bike mechanic (I always thought it would be fun to work in a bike shop, too), run for public office (and serve once)–not necessarily for Congress or the Presidency, live debt and regret free, read the entire Bible and other religious texts (as much for the “religious”aspects as for their huge influences on culture and society and the earth–besides I’m interested in matters of the spirit and how they affect our relation to the earth), learn to read the landscape, regain touch with old and close friends, don’t needlessly let people fall out of my life, learn to live more selflessly, start a band (need to work on an instrument), stop second guessing myself (and my self-depreciating humor), get to the point where my inputs=outputs as much as possible, have a Harold-Maude fling (when I’m 80), write a newspaper column, learn to roll a kayak, do a stint with the Park Service (no, that’s not for your benefit), learn to knit and knit my own socks, learn to sew (I don’t really know how), make a quilt completely from scraps. . .

Anyway, that’s a few of my dreams and aspirations, maybe those aren’t much beyond the surface, but we can get deeper later.

Have a wonderful evening,


Tom’s response:

Hi there! Wow–that’s a very inclusive list–extremely impressive! You have a lot of fun ideas there–many I could see myself doing as well, at some point in my life. Now I’m curious as to whether you have a plan to accomplish these or if you are just letting it happen as it happens?

Talk to you again later,


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