As you’re reading this, you’re sitting in the immigration area of Heathrow, waiting for your mandatory chest scan - a requirement for the granting of passage into the UK as a student. They will find in there an anxious heart aflutter and a pair of strong lungs holding its breath for the time being. You’re about to start graduate school, studying Management, which seems less vague than your previous degree in Commerce, Organisations and Entrepreneurship and so, probably a good thing.
The next four years is a mixed bag of disappointment and euphoria, but I won’t spoil all the fun for you because your current self (yours truly) holds on to the belief that these are but formative experiences. There is this one time in 2013 that you will be offered the chance to play football two days in a row on a weekend in May. Say no. There is nothing formative about that torn hamstring.
Love will leave you again, and for the first time in your life you will learn how to be happy as a single man. This is a lot harder than you think because, as an adult, you’ve never really been single and so, you’ve missed many chances to be your own person and learn to love yourself as much (if not more) than you can love another. You will spend time on learning skills (ukulele plinking? bookbinding?) that it was never the right time for. You will find friends who will embrace your being and your potential. A long time ago, you read some graffiti that made you smile: “The ones who matter don’t mind and the ones who mind don’t matter.” The easiest way to make good friends is to be one.
But first: love yourself; your true self – not your narcissistic reflection in the muddied waters of the world – and others will see clearly what there is about you to love. Eventually you’ll learn to count your friends and not your favours. You’ll have difficult conversations with almost all your loved ones – some to say you love them, some to say you no longer do, some to hear the same of you. Embrace these even if they leave the bottom of your gut feeling carved out.
Love is literally the reason we are alive. We are stardust; bags strung up on scaffolding of bones and meat confusing electrical signals for emotion, but love – expressed in your work, your word, your worth to the world – love is all you have to give that frees you to touch things beyond your own insignificant life and for far longer than your immediate and short presence in this world. If your immediate existence has a pre-eminent goal, live for something greater than yourself.
You will start a charity you should have done years ago. It will put unusually successful adults in front of kids who are refused the right to dream of a life beyond what is scripted. You will realise that education and technology need to serve us rather than the other way around - they are tools for us to find meaning in life, not any meaning in of themselves. Start learning how to make this happen. You will teach, help and share. Keep doing these things.
I’d say you are on the right track, but you aren’t – there is a call that you are answering. Metaphors of maps and pathways don’t figure into a world where your location, direction and speed don’t matter as much as your desire to redraw that very same world.
Lots of unsolicited advice so far (and my, you like to write), but here’s some praise: you’ve done well to get this far. Give yourself a pat on the back. Enjoy your new adventure in a new country. Steady your heart, exhale, and step through the scanner and into your new life. Welcome to London. God save the Queen. Jolly good. Tally-ho, pip, pip. I’ll see you real soon.
Yours truly, in every sense,