Letter To My Seven Year Old Self

SONY DSCI see you there, sitting cross legged on the floor next to your little chestnut colored bookcase (believe it or not, you still have it), that all too familiar bright orange Young Student’s Encyclopedia open on your lap – you’re reading the Year in Review 1972 edition. Of course, you’re in 1973 right now and while you peruse the events of the prior year, eventually you’ll get to the section that predicts what the future is going to look like. I know you always loved that section and wondered what life was going to be like when it reached the year 2000. Well, I’m writing to you from late December 2013. Imagine? Yes, you made it a good decade and more past that mysterious year (at least for you, right now), which is forty years into the future. Imagine that. Our father hasn’t even lived that long as of yet – he is only thirty two in your time – which is still very young although he may seem “old” to you. I can see him sitting on the couch with this cigar watching television although it isn’t clear what he’s watching. Our mother is merely thirty – hard to get my head around that, being that I am now seventeen years older than she was then, but I think you get the idea. Yes, kid, you made it and you’re still alive and in reasonably good health (save for the sinus issues but I think you’re already starting to have them).

It’s a very interesting time here in 2013. When you get to the “Predictions of The Future” section, you’re going to see all these artist’s renderings of how the world is going to look. I hate to disappoint you but it looks nothing like that. In fact, it looks pretty much the same as it did then. New York is still a dirty place, still crazed, still crowded, only you’re not allowed to do as much as anyone living in 1973 (thanks to a billionaire mayor who felt it was his job to tell you what to eat and drink, among other things – but that’s another issue for another time). There are no hovercrafts, no moving sidewalks, no personal flying vehicles, no jet packs, no multilevel streets with that (what is now) “retro-future” look. Well, to be honest, we do have all those things in 2013, but they’re still novelties and people don’t use them in their every day lives. However, the technology that does exist is simply going to blow your mind. I’d like to concentrate on those things more than your personal life since if I give you any indication what you are in for, it may alter the course of things and naturally effect me, then I wouldn’t be the person writing to you now. It’s complicated, I know, but science has come a very long way since then. You’ll know soon enough about quantum mechanics, string theory and all the other weirdness in time. Right now, you’re way too young to understand it all. Just be patient and you’ll get through it all, trust me. So I’m just going to focus on technology and what’s been going on in the world.

I can see your desk against the window, the one that looks out over our neighbor’s driveway with the obstacle course of dog shit. I can even hear the little mutt barking at the front gate. (I wonder if she’s barking at George the Bum?). At any rate, I see you have one of those black and white “marble notebooks” sitting there, open to a page with some writing on it. Not sure what it is, exactly, but the good news is by your eighth birthday in August, Mom and Dad are going to buy you a small manual typewriter. Exciting, I know. Now you’ll no longer have to go buy those damn notebooks from Garden Food anymore to do your writing (you’ll have to start buying typing paper and carbons). Carbons – that’s funny to me now. You’re not going to need them, nor your typewriter by 2013. See, I’m writing this letter to you from a computer. Before you start imagining those large, monstrous, clunky things that are computers in your day, try to imagine an object no bigger than the encyclopedia on your lap. Amazing, isn’t it? And within this contraption there are “programs” (or “Applications” as they are more familiarly known) where you can type and the words appear on a screen (which in turn looks like paper in a typewriter). Guess what? No more White Out, no more crossing out, no more messy looking papers (which in a way is a shame), because all the editing features are right there on the computer. Even the “type” (as you’d know it) can be changed to hundreds of various appearances. They call them “fonts” (which is not new, of course, but to your seven year old mind, you never even heard the word before). At any rate, you’ll still be writing, as you can clearly see. And you’ll be writing a lot and you will enjoy it as much as you do now. It’s a little different though when you become an adult – but you’ll find that out in a few years time, anyway. I don’t want to say anything that will discourage you.

There is also thing thing called The Internet. Sounds very “futuristic” doesn’t it? Well, from your vantage point, it is, and incredibly so. You have no idea what it’s capable of doing. In my time, we call this being “on line” and that is also through your computer. See, telecommunication technology is going to change the way we communicate with one another. Writing letters will be virtually gone and replaced with something called email (Electronic Mail). Let me try to explain: Everyone pays for a particular service in order to access the internet and usually those services will give you an “email address”, which anyone in the world can send a “letter” or message to you and you will get it within seconds. Imagine? Someone from Australia, say, can type a message, click a button and within moments you can read it. Cool, isn’t it? The Internet itself is a little too complex to explain to someone your age but think of it as a world wide communications system where you can send messages, photographs, music, writing, and just about anything you can think of to anyone in the world at any time (if they are “connected” that is). Sounds like some of those science fiction books I see on your bookshelf, doesn’t it?

But that’s not all: There are miniature telephones too, and through them, you can also access The Internet, send “emails”, photos, video (that’s coming too – right now only television stations utilize it. By the time you’re eighteen you’ll know what that is). No more clunky telephone hanging from the wall like the one in your kitchen. Small enough to put in your pocket. Like a telephone/computer in one handy little device. You can even speak to one another and see one another (like on The Jetsons). I kid you not. There are many other incredible technological advancements too. Just wait until you hear about DNA and the “Human Genome”, it’s going to blow you away. And Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Well, there may be a problem with it because of a new understanding of physics which is so bizarre than even scientists are scratching their heads. There are many other things too, things that your mind just can’t grasp right now, so in a sense, the “future” is kind of sci-fi from your perspective, but the changes came so gradually, it’s hard to imagine now what it was like in your day, and remembering it now makes me wonder how the hell anyone even lived without any of these things.

The world is also a very different place. What you’re looking at right now – that 1972 Year in Review – virtually ancient history now. There are adults walking around who weren’t even born yet and don’t even remember the world as you are currently living it. Now I’m going to tell you a couple of things but you have to keep them to yourself. The theory still holds that if you change even one little thing in the past it can totally disrupt the future (again, think of all your science fiction novels on that bookshelf). So, I’ll tell you a couple of things but you’ll have to promise me you’ll keep it to yourself.

Let’s start with your president, Richard Nixon. He was just elected for another term in office (remember you had to write something about that for class?) but he won’t be there for much longer. A scandal, within one year’s time, is going to see him resign. That’s right. His days are numbered. And the war in Vietnam? It will end soon but the last of our troops won’t be coming home for another two years. By 1975, we would have lost that war and the communists are going to win and take over the country. Mind blowing, isn’t it? I know how much you’ve read those war books and how America “never lost a war.” Well – there’s a first for everything. But don’t worry. It will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on your daily life (meaning, the communists won’t be taking over – only in Vietnam). Your next president will be Gerald Ford, but he’s only going to last two years, finishing out Nixon’s term – then a peanut farmer (yes, I’m not kidding) from Georgia is going to become the next elected president of the United States – and the world is going to change even more and things are going to get a little hard on everyone. Don’t be surprised if you’ll have to do with less because of it. There is going to be an event near the end of his term in office which will be pivotal in the future of this country but no one really knows it yet. They won’t know it until well into the future, closer to my time. Let’s just say it has something to do with a revolution in the Middle East. That’s all you need to know right now.

Oh, and Communism? Dead. You heard me right. So whenever you hear the politicians groaning about “the communist threat” (the president after Carter will do that often), don’t worry. It may seem scary to everyone but things will turn out all right (there will be something else to worry about – something that has its roots in that Middle Eastern revolution I referred to). So yes, that’s right. Communism will be defeated – and without a major war. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief, at least for a little while.

And here’s another major historical thing that you can look forward to, something that seems inconceivable in your time. By 2008, America will see the very first black president (only many will say “African-American”, something else you’ll learn about in the coming years). So while you’re looking through those encyclopedias, keep this in mind. When it happened it was considered “historic”, of course, but the “amazement” of it wasn’t that big of a deal. Things will change a lot regarding race relations over the years and it will be sort of anti-climatic. It would have been more of a “shock” if it happened in your time.

Again, I’m not going to tell you anything personal because you will have to go through it all in order to become the man you will become. Sorry about that, but it’s essential that you just don’t know. A lot of people, when they reach my age, often think about how if they could go back in time and change things how they would do it in a heartbeat. They usually say this because they often think about going back and taking with them all they had learned over the course of their lives. But that kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me. You wouldn’t be the same person and you need to become who you need to become. So I apologize if you were expecting to find out personal details that would help you when the time finally arrives. Like everyone else, there are good things and there are bad things, but the experience of both of the good and the bad will make you who you are. I don’t know if you can understand that but trust me, you’ll thank me later for it. Just know, that despite everything, you will turn out all right.

There is so much that I can tell you and want to tell you but it’s best that I sign off here. The only advice I will pass down to you is this: just be yourself. I can’t even stress how important this is – but you know what? I’m thinking I really don’t need to give you this advice because, trust me, you did just that. So enjoy, my little friend. There is a hell of a lot you will learn, see, experience. Try to do it with all the wonder and fascination you currently have for things. It won’t always be easy, but like I said, you’ll turn out all right in the end. So go back to your books – and don’t get to sleep too late. Remember, you have school tomorrow.

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Letter To My Seven Year Old Self, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Posted in: Columns, Essay, Julian Gallo

About the Author:

Born and raised in New York City. I am a musician/writer/painter who has poems and short stories published in about 40 magazines and journals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and also has 12 books under his belt:
"Standing On Lorimer Street Awaiting Crucifixion" (Alpha Beat Press, 1996), "The Terror of Your Cunt is The Beauty of Your Face" (Black Spring Press, 1999), "Street Gospel Mystical Intellectual Survival Codes" (Budget Press, 2000), "Scrape That Violin More Darkly Then Hover Like Smoke In The Air" (Black Spring Press, 2001), "Existential Labyrinths" (Black Spring Press, 2003), "Window Shopping For A New Crown of Thorns" (Lulu Press, 2007), "November Rust" (Lulu Press, 2007), "My Arrival Is Marked By Illuminating Stains" (Lulu Press 2007), "A Symphony of Olives" (Propaganda Press, 2009) and "Divertimiento" (Propaganda Press, 2009). His second novel "Naderia" was released in January 2011 and his third, "Be Still and Know That I Am" (Beat Corrida) was released in September 2011. He is also currently playing guitar and bass for NYC singer/songwriter Linda La Porte. View My Profile

  • Julian,

    I absolutely loved this. What a great perspective about the last 30 years. And you brought me back to my seven year-old self. The white-out part made me chuckle a little 😉

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  • Life is s strange journey. Who would have thought that the fascinating world incased in a glass ball would break and render us helpless to the push and pull of forces beyond our control? If I have to write a letter to the past, I’d probably tell my seven year old self to be strong and hold on….

    Always a pleasure to read Julian 🙂

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  • Katy, Baxter -- Thank you. Greatly appreciated as always. A few weeks ago I was talking with someone who is about the same age as I am and we were marveling over all the things we have today that we didn’t have as kids or even teenagers. By the time the Internet became what it is today, I was already 30 years old, maybe even a little older. I remember when it first became accessible to just about everyone, it was like a WTF moment for me but I immediately saw the potential in it, especially if you’re involved in the arts in some way. But, I started to think, how would it look to someone from the past? My friend and I began laughing over all the things we DIDN’T have in those days and this one other guy, who was born in 1981, looked at us as if we were crazy, since he’d never known the world without any of these things -- and think he’s in his THIRTIES now. So, needless to say, this made me feel like how my grandfather felt when he used to tell us about his going to the movies for pennies and when one could get a meal for 25 cents. Thanks again -- just having a little fun with the idea.

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