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letter to self
warning! read 10 minutes before you die for a step-by-step tutorial on kindergarten hand-drawing.
by jeremiah p. iacovelli

Hello again!

It’s been a while since we last spoke. I know I haven’t been one of your favorite people these past years, but we need to set our differences aside for the next few minutes. Remember, you asked for this.

Do you remember the art classes that you used to take in elementary school? Think back.... One of the first lessons that most children get is learning to draw their own hand. The teacher gives you a blank piece of paper and a crayon and you trace around the outside of your fingers until the figure on the paper resembles your hand. You remember that, right? Well, think about that first sketch. Basically, it was one long line, and even though it looked like your hand, inside the line was nothing. In fact, when you are four years old what you are is made up of lines. The space within these lines is not empty, like in the sketch, but untouched, virgin to the world. As a matter of fact, if you look closely at a young child’s fingerprints, you’ll notice that they are faint, and that the lines running across their palms are few. They do not even possess the marks they’ll eventually leave on the world.

Now consider your own hand. Look at the one you are using to hold this letter, the letter that you wrote. Examine your lines. Throughout history, countless people have said that a person leaves a mark on everything they touch. If that is true, then so is the inverse, namely, everything we touch leaves an impression on us as well. Look again at your own hands. Do you see what I mean?

Look closely at the spot below your left index finger. Do you remember yet? Did you ever tell her how much you loved her? Or how sorry you were? Did you know that she has marks on her palm from where she clenched her fists in frustration? Now look underneath that one to the right and down a little. Not that one, but the one that stretches across your palm. Did you ever forgive him? Do you know that he forgave you? Do you know that that the tip of his right index finger is rough from all the tears he secretly wiped away for years after you parted? I know this can be painful, but you need this. Now look at the other hand. You can’t miss this one because it’s the one that you made yourself. Funny how after all these years its not healed. Why do you think that is?

You can see a world crafted around the outside of the human hand. Do you know what you’ve touched? Imagine the hands of those that touched you. How deep are their lines? How long have they tried to cover up the scars from you? Look, I know there’s not much time left. Unless you cheated that is. Either way, look at what you’ve done and ask yourself this: Are you easy to touch?

Luckily for you, life is not a one-sided coin. She will always look back fondly on the times you caressed her hair for hours, and the times you played stupid love songs on your guitar that were too embarrassing to play anywhere else. And he will always remember the trips to the store when you really were his son, and he really was your father. And you, you will never forget how those memories feel because you will always have the lines to remind you. So as you wait for that last swing of the pendulum, look at your hands, and consider the effect of the millions of handshakes you’ve exchanged. Consider the marks that are on so many hands because of you. And know, after all this time, that you touched people. It’s been nice talking to you again. I hope you have read this entire letter carefully because I wouldn’t want you to go away mad. Goodbye and good luck.

Sincerely, You

PS: I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not about to die and that you are reading this letter early. Well, maybe it’s for the best. If that is the case, think about how it would feel to really die and still have so much left to do, say, remember, and forget. Look real hard at what you’ve done. And do better.


Human being.

more about jeremiah p. iacovelli


russ carr
4.8.01 @ 2:30p

If I ever wrote myself such a letter, I hope I would get sober enough long enough to realize exactly what I was doing and throw myself under a passing maglev train before I had the opportunity to complete the letter, lest I later drown myself in a sea of misbegotten regrets evoked by an insipid child who couldn't possibly understand why I did what I did.

jeremiah iacovelli
4.8.01 @ 3:07p

I agree. The guy who wrote this (me) has a few problems. Though it may read like a self-help book, the story is is less focused on self pity, and more closely related to self-realization. Sometimes, it's important to think about how we affect other people, because most of us don't do that very often. I am not a professional writer, but I do know that constructive criticism, though sometimes hard to listen to, is the best thing an amateur can get. I look at Intrepidmedia as a way to get that criticism. Unfortunately, some people use the same avenue to spread baseless scathing criticism as well. I feel bad for the person who can read a piece of writing that came directly from the heart of its writer, and immediately disredard it as an attempt at preschool post-structuralism. Maybe, the article made you look so deep into yourself that you have become afraid of what you are and are angry at me for that. I am sorry. I'll be sure to write only material that will appeal to the

joe procopio
4.8.01 @ 3:27p

You can't please everyone - and I can see where Russ is coming from. The piece, in my opinion, is really good and it hits on a couple deeper levels than self help.

juli mccarthy
4.8.01 @ 6:59p

When I was 14, I accidentally cut the palm of my hand, and the scar cut my "life line" in half. I remember thinking that was a hell of a dumb way to shorten my life expectancy. I enjoyed reading this. Only constructive criticism I have to offer would be to expand on the concept and make it less personal, more general.

adam kraemer
4.9.01 @ 8:08a

Well, first of all, I liked this one, too. But I think we're all missing what's important here. It was edited beautifully.

jael mchenry
4.9.01 @ 9:06a

russ, how many passing maglev trains do you need to worry about in creve coeur?

russ carr
4.10.01 @ 1:08a

Frankly, Jael, It's tough setting foot outside my doorway without one of those pesky contraptions threatening to repulse itself right over top of me...

roger striffler
4.19.01 @ 3:00p

Actually, I like this piece. I think the idea of looking at how your actions affect others is a pretty universal concept (although the degree to which people do it varies wildly). I also think it's a concept that has been beaten into oblivion by countless religious sermons and touchy-feely self help books. This, on the other hand was a pretty cool and unusual way of presenting the same ideas. And there are some lines in there that are real gems.

Oh, and Jeremiah...I'm from Syracuse originally. You need to consider if those lines might really be from the freakin' cold winters...

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