You’re going to live to be at least 48. I know this, because I’m writing to you from August of 2013. It’s beautiful here, and the journey is amazing. Scary sometimes, and rough, but you’ll make it past the darkness. There are surprises and oases everywhere, so there’s much to look forward too.
I do have some bad news: Your parents are both gone, and your sister isn’t speaking to you. None of these things are your fault, so please don’t beat yourself up about it.
Some good news: You have four incredibly amazing children. (Three daughters and a son.)
Better news than that: You’re married!
And that means: That means you got to kiss a girl. In fact, more than one.
The best news: Your wife is a complete babe. Beautiful, smart … you find a girl who loves you exactly the way you are. (Semi-spoiler: you already know her, but the two of you haven’t ‘clicked’ yet.) So keep up your prayers, because they will be answered. There’s is a nerd-loving hottie in your future.
On the “prayer” thing: You still think God exists. More than ever, really.
Dear Hannibal at 17: You’re not a loser. You won’t believe this, I know. But you’re not. Things get better. Your next family? It stays together. You laugh together, you sing, you laugh some more, your wife lets you smooch her, and while you’re typing this, your boy (he’s taller than you!) plays guitar in the next room.
You don’t starve to death. Nobody kills you. You don’t die in an accident. You get a job. You have friends, here and there. You’re not exposed as a complete fraud. Things are okay.
Turns out, you don’t fail at everything. You fail at some things, but most “things” become a lot more laughable. Seriously — life is funnier all the time. All that stuff you already know, deep down, is darkly odd about your life? It’s downright hilarious, later. I know you won’t, but you can afford to lighten up a bit.
You know that ‘hobby’ of yours? The one your old man sneers at and got you laughed off the stage at the 5th grade talent show? It’s going to be your career. Your ‘dime a dozen’ tricks are going to take you to Europe, Mexico and all over the US. You will meet amazing people and experience things you can’t even imagine, all because you tell stories and do some card tricks. Your Dad is wrong about this one.
Spoiler: Your Dad is a champion Ballroom Dancer. He has trophies and everything. How’s THAT for a new perspective, eh?
The stuff you’re ashamed of, that stuff at 17, that only I know about? God uses you anyway. Somehow. You won’t figure it out, but he does. He loves you, in the midst of it.
That Richard Adams book you love so much, the one with the rabbits? It contains everything you need to know about your passion and your calling. God is in it.
He’s in you, too.