To: Whitney From: The Grown-Up Version of Yourself

And these days the only place you have to lose yourself is the Music. You are just so freaking together it's unbelievable. You have a job, you have a lover, you have the brightest future a life like yours would allow. And yet, you want to run away. You want to escape where things aren't quite so formulaic and crafted. You want to exist in a world you spent your life convincing yourself you didn't belong to.

The part of it that amazes you, that contradicts everything you just wrote is that you know if you still belonged there, you'd wish you were somewhere else. You'd wish you fit right into the Suburban mold with your dog and your fence and your commercialized ideals of living.

I know you, better than you think. I know that you will never be happy, because I know that you were born one of those people who will never be happy. I know the only time you find inspiration is in your misery, and perhaps that's why you cling so tightly to it--- like your misery is all that gives you character. If you allowed yourself to be content with your cookie-cutter world you might fall into that trap of being like everyone else. But, if you confess your discontent alone to your computer, well that makes you somehow different then, doesn't it? At least you get what you're doing is pathetic...at least you're mourning the loss of dreams you thought you'd one day chase.

Don't you remember the days when you wanted to live? Look deep inside yourself---what does it really mean to you to live? Do you long to ride elephants in Africa, touch the hands of Buddhist religious leaders? What happened to that part of you that dreamt of leaving it all behind for something deeper, and greater?

And then you wonder, too, if maybe those things have to really entail living. What is wrong with simplicity-- with a family to love, roots laid down around you, certainty ahead of you? Predictability does not have to be this term you run from, rather something you can embrace. The opportunity to be someone's loving wife, someone's mother, someone's best friend, to impact the world around you in ways that may not make you famous with the media, or make people want to buy your books, are those not the most effective ways to impact the world--- little by little, and one by one?

I think it is that you want to be beautiful, smart, strong, and successful. Maybe you have grown up enough to realize that you don't have to run off to New York City to experience life as you want to experience it. With age, you have developed into this person for whom, without family and friends, experience means nothing. Hugs from your Granny, long conversations with your mother, Friday nights spent alone with yourself, your books, and your music, coming home to the love of your life and your dog and your bird, this is life. You are not yet a slave to corporate America, you do not feel unhappy or empty. The part you're most uncomfortable with is that you are comfortable with the way the world exists for you at this point. You never saw this coming--- you missed the point where the person you thought you wanted to be became the person you are right now. You were not aware of the moment when that became okay with you.

And the flying high, the uncertainty, the idea of leaving it all behind to backpack through Europe and have one-night stands with gorgeous Italian men, it all sounds glamorous and ritzy, and, in theory, exciting. But at the end of the day- what you want is someone you love to come home to. You want music in your ears and the sun on your back, and you want to be able to list on both hands the people you love- and you want them to be the same people who love you back. You want an open mind and a warm heart, and you want to reach out and embrace those who aren't quite so lucky. And at the end of the day, you realize you can do all of those things from exactly where you're standing.