My old college friend Brian was in town visiting this weekend. We did the math. It had been 15 years since we'd last seen each other. The events that have filled the past decade and a half of our lives is a surprise to both of us. We laugh about how we met. He was a muscular college senior and the first person to introduce me, a fairly plump freshman, to weight lifting. At the time, I would much rather comfortably pass the time sweating over an elliptical machine than doing Russian twists and chest flies with free weights. But the confidence he instilled in me and the lessons he taught me about strength training changed not only my body, but my mindset. I remind him that he had a profound effect on the trajectory of my life, my health, and my well-being. He humbly smiles and changes the subject by showing me a video of his 5-year-old son. It is endearing to see him as a dad. I can only imagine where we'll be in 15 more years.
This crazy idea comes over me while we are hiking today. I turn to him and say, "Let's describe to each other in excruciating detail our dream life in 15 years. We'll write it down and save it and read it back to each other in exactly 15 years." He agrees. After lunch, I grab my notebook and pen. I lean in closely. "Tell me where you're living. What you look like. How your day unfolds." He speaks slowly. His face is contemplative. I carefully record each word in the notebook. I ask him to summarize his life in three words. I write those three words down.
We switch. I gush free-flowing thoughts and dreams of the projects I'm working on, who I'm collaborating with, the activities I'm doing. What I'm writing. The groups of people I'm serving. What my relationships are like. It feels silly and yet profound- imagining an ideal world that I can see only from a distance. But the fact is, it is clear and I can see it.
On March 18, 2032, we will read these letters back to each other. When that day comes, I hope we feel surprise and certainty all at once. I hope we can laugh at the absurdity of our big dreams that were recorded outside of a Berkeley cafe 15 years earlier, scribbled in a lined notebook and tucked away for safe keeping, while also having an unshakeable knowingness that we took deliberate and intentional steps to cross the chasm into a life we had always imagined for ourselves.