Rupert Myer’s advice to his younger self:
May I be blunt? Don’t think you’re too special. I know you don’t and I know why you don’t but I’ll leave it with you anyway.
Get up when you wake up. Make orange juice from fresh oranges. Open the blinds and curtains. Tell your doctor not to open up your knee. Let him know you’ve got ankylosing spondylitis. It’s a nuisance now but it won’t cause you much bother. Try a bit harder at fitness and don’t confuse that with sport. I know that it’s not your forte but you’re OK at it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. By the way, you can sing so ignore that snide remark from the music teacher: don’t leave it until you’re fifty to sing in a choir and plan a solo too.
Drink a lot of water. Read Catcher in the Rye now or even a year ago. And Lucinda Brayford. Keep telling Mrs Tonelli that she makes the best spinach pancakes in the world. Get back on the horse and not just any horse, your own horse. Commit poetry and songs to your memory and heart. Talk to your grandmothers about your grandfathers. Know that humility and low self-esteem are not the same thing. Stand up straight. Eat fruit in season and grow your own raspberries.
Don’t cancel the subscription to The New Yorker that your aunt gives you. Read everything that W.G. Sebald writes, in German if you can. Take any chance offered to be in a remote indigenous community and know what a privilege that is. Understand the insight and revelation you will gain. Place that in your soul.
When you’re a bit older, fall in love, ideally really only once, have lots of children and help to bring them up well. Find mentors or allow yourself to be found by them and then hang around with them a lot. Be useful. Laugh. Smile. Plan to do a backflip when you’re sixty. Combine skepticism with enthusiasm. Be imaginative. Barrack for Geelong: I know you already do but be more committed about it.
Be forthcoming with hugs, expressions of love and affection. Tell the people you love, especially your family, that you love them, not in a 70’s kissy way but as you might in later life want to eulogise a dear, dear friend. Know that it aches. Always have a dog in your life. Always drive a Citroen. Overcome your fear of public speaking: just get on with it. Toughen up.
Make your old friends soon. Learn how to reverse a trailer. And how to prune a rose. And how to listen. Don’t throw away that Paul Smith double breasted jacket that you will buy at his first shop in Covent Garden, from him: get the sleeves repaired. Prepare to encounter an artwork that you will then think about every day of your life.
Figure out the best time to buy shares in two companies: one will be Microsoft and the other is Apple. Try to avoid the six remarks you could make to people that you will regret forever: if you think hard enough, you’ll figure out which ones they are. I reckon you can manage that. Turn off the lights to save electricity. Never complain and never explain and tell me what you think that means when we meet. Give up on people who are persistently rude, even if they are blind to their own rudeness. If you want to be radical, wear a suit: it’s a great disguise. Take the window seat and control the blind.
Please write back.