Letter to My Younger Self

Dear 11-year-old Risto,

You’re probably reading this at breakfast, while eating Star Wars cereal. No, wait. There is no Star Wars cereal yet. My bad, a bit of a spoiler but at least it’s something to look forward to. (Chocolate cereal … I know!)

So, you’re sitting at the kitchen table, with a stack of Donald Duck comics, and you’re eating a Nordic-style open-faced sandwich with a slice of Finnish version of the German jagdwurst on it. Rest assured, I will take care of those comics, especially the one you’re reading right now, so that your Son and Daughter can also read them. (Oh, man, another spoiler. Yeah, yeah, you’ll get kids and they’re awesome, but try to forget that now, that’s not what I’m writing to you for).

While you’re eating your sandwich and reading your comics, you’re probably squeezing a tennis ball with your left hand, because you read in a book that your hockey hero Valeri Kharlamov had done so to get stronger arms. You’ll only do it for a day, but for the rest of your life you’ll tell people how you “used to carry a tennis ball” with you. And that’s fine. No harm, no foul. It’s a cool story and if you have to choose between savouring that story and getting strong arms – go with the story. Take that as a piece of friendly advice.

After breakfast, you’ll go to school. It’s a short walk, about ten minutes, and mostly you walk it alone. Well, that’s what the other people see, but we both know you have company, right? Some days it’s the Phantom, other days a knight from King Arthur’s court, or maybe Tarzan or Robin Hood. Or, it’s not even that you’re walking with them as you’re walking as them. You become Tarzan, and that’s why you jump on stones and take a shortcut through the rose hip bushes.

One of these days, your teacher will give you your English names at English class. You’ll want to be called Steve because you want to be like the Six Million Dollar Man, but buddy, you’re not. Your teacher will tell you that you look more like Richard, so just suck it up. She’s right. You’ll get other nicknames but they won’t stick, either. Not even Wayne, although that lasts a good six months. Just be you.

Anyway, I know you’re pumped about your hockey team’s upcoming trip to Stockholm. A couple of things on that: 1) Swedes use sour milk on the cereal, and Dad will try to trick you, but don’t fall for that. 2) When your sightseeing tour drives by the Royal Palace, note the building across the street. Not saying anything more, just make sure you see it.

Oh, geez, I’ll say it: YOU’LL WORK THERE ONE DAY!

And yes, if I say A, I’ll have to say B as well. No, you won’t become a pro hockey player. But hey, you’re a smart kid, good at school and you know how you like to write those hockey play-by-plays in that journal of yours? Keep doing it. Also, that one day you sat outside on the balcony and wrote your “book” on Mom’s portable typewriter, pretty sweet, right? Who knows, maybe you’ll become a writer or something. Sure, keep playing hockey, it is fun, but also, keep your ears and eyes open. Just sayin’ … as people say these days.

Think about it.

One last piece of advice: Work on your sentence structure and try to keep your thoughts to 140 characters or less.

So, eat your breakfast, go to school, stay out of trouble, and seriously, keep reading and writing. Oh, and in few years, when you have a half a breakaway from the left in the last minutes of a hockey game, don’t shoot, but fake a shot and then skate around the net. Will it work? Of course it’ll work.

Now, having information about the future can be extremely dangerous even if your intentions are good but if someday, a crazy wild-eyed scientist or a kid shows up and delivers this letter to you, don’t be scared…

No high-five?

I guess you weren’t ready for that reference – but in a few years, you’re gonna love it.

See you in a bit – sooner than you realize – because like Richard Marx, I’ll be right here waiting. (No, different Marx, nothing to do with Groucho).

Best,
Future You

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Will not be published on The Players Tribune.

How does that make you feel?