Lime Tree Avenue, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Plinky.com asked me what I would say to my 16-year-old self, and why.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Spirituality 101 again – come on, plinky, why don't you ask me "if you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be?" Ah well, I committed to answer, so…

I could say…

You will spend your life surrounded by people with mis-placed fascination for 20th century psycho-analytical techniques. People who appear obsessed with trying to find some point in their history, some relationship that succeeded or failed, some abandoned moment on which to pin the blame for their current circumstances.

You will spend your waking hours wondering why people avoid living in their moment and making themselves open to all the moments to come.

You will laugh a lot and enjoy the moments of loving and being loved.

You will play the guitar. You will write great stories. You will travel the world and live a life of fullness and joy.

You will wake in a hospital bed, healing from a major accident, floating on pain-killers that provide vivid, disturbing hallucinations. And when you wake, you will taste all the futility of professional life baked into a molten ball in your core.

You will promise yourself that you will never, ever allow that to happen again. And you will hold true to that promise.

I could say all that… But all I would say is…

Avoid well-intentioned advice from older people, mostly they're trying to transfer their own experience to your journey to shape you so that you look, think, act and feel as they do. They are trying to place their failures and successes within you. They are not you. You are you. Be you in every moment of your life.

That's all I would tell my 16-year-old self… And all my 16-year-old self would tell me.

Now… Off to work out what sort of tree I would be, were I a tree…

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