Monday, February 22, 2016

Message From My 20 Year Old Self

Today I hiked on Mt. Tamalpais, the majestic peak that towers above the county where I live. As I climbed a steep section of the trail, my mind drifted to a precipitous climb I made 45 years earlier through the terraced Himalayas of Nepal. I mused how almost half a century has seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, how much life has been lived while little has changed. Like you, I've traveled through discoveries and dead ends, successes and failures, loves and betrayals, clarity and confusion, wonders and banalities, and the other archetypal dualities that edge the trail of a life. Threading all this together, the same awareness I call "me" looks out through my eyes, the same heart that has pounded out millions of beats powers me up the rocky slope, the same lungs that gasped for millions of breathes heaves me skyward along the earth's contours, the same feet that searched for countless places of purchase feel for solid spots to land. 

As is common these days, I imagined what I would tell my 20 year old self as he wandered the glorious mountain paths marking the beginning of his adulthood. Sifting through the endless stream of aha's and oh no's I've experienced, the most honest statement I could conjure was, "Our mind's desperately seek to squeeze the world into definable boxes, but life is too elusive and vast to fit into anyone's labels and definitions. The best you can do is open and take the next step. Let go of preconceptions and dance with the mystery that unfolds as best you can." 

This seemed like paltry wisdom wrought from a well examined lifetime. But there it was and I was ready to leave it at that. Then, across the decades, 20 year old Tony spoke up, "Not so fast, old man. I have something to tell you. Your body may be weakened by time and the nightmarish odyssey of the illness you have been through. Your spirit may be battered by disappointments and fears. Life may seem more unknowable, impermanent and uncertain than ever. Just know this. The strong, resilient, youth that I am is alive within you. My unencumbered vision that sees wonder in the smallest things peers through your eyes. The courage that carried me into unknown lands still dwells in your heart. The road ahead may be obscured, but take heart. My strength and boldness are shining within you. Let's rock this crazy adventure." 

It was a good hike on the mountain today.


  1. Tony,thank you for such inspiring words as I step out upon my own shaky, untraveled ground.It was almost as if something prodded me to open up this post in my inbox. And indeed, the message buried in the piles of meaningless chatter, words well spoken that I needed to hear today in this moment. Beautifully written-

  2. I needed these words. Thank you for being a light on the path. Blessings to you!