I have written a letter for my boys to read once I’m dead. It was meant to just be instructions on what to do with stuff like bank accounts, etc. But, as I wrote, I realized that it was really about the future. I was writing to who they were going to become, instead of who they were now. Needless to say, it’s a sad letter.

As I put pen to paper the melancholy set in. I daydreamed about who my sons would be, and the circumstances under which they’d be reading my note. I then thought about what I am doing now that might shape what happens then.

There are these lines from a David Whyte poem:

Live in this place
as you were meant to and then,
surprised by your abilities,
become the ancestor of it all,
the quiet, robust and blessed Saint
that your future happiness
will always remember.

So, who I am then has everything to do with what I do today. It’s kind of like seeing the forest for the trees. The future is a choice.

I can make plans, but they all lead back to right now. My experiences, decisions, and actions are the stuff of memory in the years to come. How do I want to look back? What can I be confident of as I write my kids?

I already have my own ancestry. I have a few old photos of me in high school. I posted them on Facebook a few years ago – the boys loved them. It gave them a glimpse back. I’ve told them many, but not all, of the stories. Those images and anecdotes aren’t disconnected, they are a real part of who I am now.

All that said, I am really hoping nobody will be reading that letter any time soon.