Daniel: A 65-year-old man
Dan: Daniel’s younger self at age 20
Daniel: (whispering, smiling gently) Shhhh, Dan. Don’t wake up. This is a dream.
Dan: (groggily) Huh?
Daniel: (speaking more clearly) I am a voice from your future. Actually, I am your voice from your future.
Dan: (curious, but not afraid) What? Who are you?
Daniel: I’m Daniel. I’m you. Age 65.
Daniel: (interrupting) Just go with this for a bit. Let’s see where this takes you. Where this takes us.
Dan: (emerging from the somnolent cloud, then open to what happens next) Um… ok.
Daniel: (firmly now and for the rest of the dialog) I am here, in your torpid mind, to provide you a simple message based on experience. A message of advice, as it were.
Dan: Ok… I’m ready.
Daniel: Great. The message is this: It matters. It all matters.
Dan: What matters?
Daniel: Everything. Everything you do. Everything you think. Every decision you make. Every decision you try to avoid. Everything.
Dan: What do you mean, “everything?”
Daniel: I mean everything. In the next 45 years you will be frequented by what feels like big decisions. Which college you go to. What classes you take. Whether you want something called a career, and then what career path you pursue.
Dan: Those are huge decisions alright.
Daniel: But there is more. Much more. Who will you decide to date? Who will you decide to love? All those choices matter.
Dan: Well, what’s surprising about that? Those are the choices that trouble me now. So of course, they matter.
Daniel: Yes, but everything else matters too. Even the day-to-day. The seemingly insignificant.
Dan: The insignificant?
Daniel: The seemingly insignificant. Yes. Every time you decide to work late to finish something on deadline. Every moment you procrastinate and knock yourself for doing so. Every flash in which you come up with a creative solution, or every crushing instant you’re dumbfounded and lost. It might feel smaller than that still. Much smaller. The hikes you take and the outings you forgo. The dessert you eat or skip. The beer you drink or don’t. Hell, will it be an IPA or a stout? Everything matters.
Dan: (with a tad of incredulity) Everything?
Daniel: Every sentence you say. Every smile or frown. Every jot and tittle. Every whim or wisp. Everything blessed or cursed. Every blooming thing. It all matters.
Dan: (now irritated and annoyed) Why are you saying this? What are you doing to me? Why do you place this burden on my shoulders? Who can live a balanced, healthy life of accomplishment, connections and joy if there are always these expectations for perfection?
Daniel: (calmly and with kindness) Dan, I think you may be missing my essential point if this feels like a burden. Everything matters is not about obligation. It is about fact. And it is about opportunity.
It is a truth that every thought, every action you take throughout your life, affects the sum of what you become. It is a truth that every moment is an expression of who you have become and who you are. And it is a truth that every moment is an opportunity to learn from your past and become more the person you want to be in the now. In your next 45 years, through all the decisions, whether they seem large or small, I know that you will do a perfect job of creating what I am today.
My message for you now, is that overall, you and I and the infinite versions of ourselves in between, ended up doing just fine.
Dan: (calmed somewhat, but still skeptical) I suppose that is supposed to be inspiring. Or at least soothing. But it’s also daunting and not in a slight way intimidating.
Daniel: Perhaps so. But it is also your fate. I wager it feels about right too. Because I rather know you pretty well. And, happily enough, I say to you with a confidence borne from a reflective reality, everything ended up mattering to me. And in the end, everything will have mattered to you.