What I Would Say to My Twenty-Year-Old Self

by on February 2, 2022 · 2 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I saw something the other day
about what would you say
to your twenty-year-old self
as advice.

I’ve thought about it
once or twice
and what I would say to my
twenty-year-old self is:

“You’re on the right track, Jack!”
And my reason for putting it like that
is because when I was twenty
I was carrying the world
on my back,
and it was self-induced, in fact,
because if I had been
careful and wise
I wouldn’t have had
a wife and two children
in my life.

It was my
eighteen-year-old self
who sorely needed some advice
but there was nothing
that could be done about that,
after the fact,
but it’s with all that came after that,
that elicited
my wanting to let
the twenty-year-old me
know that he was on the right trajectory,
because that dude
woke up and owned it,
and got on it:
working an array
of part-time jobs,
changing diapers
and warming bottles
and going to school,
wowing cheering
Wildcat basketball fans
with some playing they hadn’t seen,
in between
agitating for
social justice and equality
in the Tucson community,
out at rec centers
doing basketball with kids,
and talking to them
at school assemblies
about “reaching for the skies”
and dreams coming true, someday,
in a “Si, se puede” kind of way;
partying every now and then
to let the blues
from the struggle
just blow away,
and rising up
and facing another day…

So, I would advise
that young man
to keep heading in
the right direction;
keep going around
the detours
and recovering
from the mishaps
and all the distractions
and I would tell him to keep
his love in play
because I know, today,
that living
in such a way,
will be extremely
rewarding someday,
a day when
he will look
back at his twenty-year-old self
and say, as his eighty-three-year-old self:
“We did it, my man!”
In a troubled land.

We lived a decent life,
the best kind of life
a human
should live,
giving it all we had to give.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David Gangsei February 3, 2022 at 1:01 pm

This piece is just great Ernie. Your 20-year old self set out on a path. And at 83 you can look back with joy, satisfaction and gratitude for the wisdom with which that youngster responded to and created his life.


Ernie McCray February 3, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Yeah, David. It’s a satisfactory feeling to have lived a life I wanted.


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