Ever wish you could meet up with your younger self and offer some sage advice at a crucial point in growing up? Aside from the awkward introductions, how very cool that would be. There I am in the middle at nine-years-old, washing my diving mask in the Mediterranean Sea, pretending I'm Jacques Cousteau. Didn't we all want to be like our heros? My dad took this with his Olympus camera on slide film. He liked slide film so we could watch slideshows in the very old-school way of a projector and a white wall.
If I have any words for you little man, it would be not to worry about being Jacques Cousteau, but seek what he sought. Keep your love and curiosity about the oceans, it will serve you well. You will, in fact, make a very profound connection with Captain Cousteau and his family by honoring his legacy, and by doing so, you will be part of the great ocean community he dreamed of. In the future, you will get newsletters, and tweets (trust me, it's a good thing!), and be friends with the Cousteau family, and so many other well known scientists, authors, marine biologists, divers, artists, poets, and protectors of the oceans. Seriously, you will!
What you dream about today as you wash your mask in the sea will be seeds that grow deep roots. You will be a very creative young man, taking your dad's love of photography for your own, and making it uniquely yours. He'll be proud of that, trust me. You will keep your poet's heart, as you do now, but it will mingle with another's in the most amazing way!
Luckily, you won't listen to the music teacher who told you you were tone-deaf last year, and never be able to play music. There's a thing called Garage Band we have now that proves him wrong! I want to tell you to keep that ember inside you burning, the one that says who you really are, and not to listen to those who tell you otherwise. I want to tell you that when you return from your years in France, don't look down on your hometown of Woodstock. It's not just a small, little town. It has a really amazing and long history in its own right, and some really amazing people live and have lived there (Joseph Campbell for one, who will be a great influence on you later). It's a great place to grow up in during your time there, so make the most of it.
I tell you, the story you will live, the paths you will cross, the connections you will make, all speak to a life you will have that will exceed your imagination. You are a dreamer, a creator, you connect dots in a most unusual way... that is why you see the way you do. It is why you can seek what Captain Cousteau sought, in your own way. So no, you won't get to scuba dive in your house, up and down the stairs, but you will see and experience so much more. Keep your head about you, follow the light and the salt air, nurture the best in you.... be bold!