This is going to sound like an episode of Futurama, but I’m writing to you from 2015. Surprise! I’m the 2015 version of you. Don’t freak out, I’m sure you have a lot of questions. And no, the Raiders still haven’t made it into the playoffs. But the Warriors are looking great!
How are you? You’re still skinny-fat, huh? You need to stop running so much and hit the weights. Talk to Brad, he’ll put you on a good plan. Don’t wait four years to get going. Those muscles aren’t going to lift themselves.
I’m writing this from the United lounge at Newark International. We’re (me?) about to fly to Sao Paulo. This is my fifth time going! Remember how you, aka me, always wanted to travel and learn languages? Holy shit dude, we’re doing it! Start taking Portuguese classes man, they’ll pay off. But make sure it’s Brazilian Portuguese.
I wanted to take a moment and give you some words of wisdom. You’re about to graduate in a few months so I want to tell you what’s really real. Pay close attention and try to listen. I know you’re hard headed and some things go in one ear and out the other. But you’ll “get a return on your investment, if attention you pay.”
First off, appreciate hard work. Listen, man, you want to build a business and be el jefe, but you need to buckle down and work. Stop trying to game the system and as A$AP Ferg says (actually, you may not know who he is just yet) “put in WORK.” You read. Good. Now read more. You should be cranking through a book a week. At-least. Have a book every time you leave Piedra and learn man, learn.
Write every day. Every day you should be putting down about 1,000 words. I know it sounds like a lot but it’s for your best (my best) interest. You have a talent. But that talent is useless without the work and practice. You think Leo Messi got to his level by doing the bare minimum? No. And neither will you. Write about Piedra. Write about home. Write about soccer. Just write. And write. The more you exercise that muscle, the stronger it will get. And thus, the closer you’ll get to becoming the best version of you (me).
I know your plan. You think that you’ll become a millionaire with some crazy idea and minimal amount of work. But how are you going to support yourself? And where will you get the money to start and fund your idea? Mom? Dad? Hah. If you’re lucky, you’ll be giving them money soon enough. Look, for now, I know you want to move home. But this home man, isn’t what you’re nostalgic mind remembers. You have changed. But the city hasn’t. If you move home you will be heartbroken that you can never return to our idea of home. That home only exists in your head as an idealistic and romantic period of time. It’s no more.
Stay in San Diego, finish your internship, save all your money and then move directly to San Francisco. You will avoid all the heartache and disappointment of detouring to Modesto first.
But you won’t do that. You will move home because you’re a hopeless romantic. (It’s cool, so am I, embrace the Latin in you). You’ll move home and despite the heartbreak and setbacks, the lessons you learn there will help you become the good man you are today (today being 2015).
Things will get tough in Modesto. You’ll have little to no money. Sure you make some cash at an odd job here (you’re going to be great at copywriting!) or poker game there. Soon, you’ll have a dead end job. But appreciate it, because all though the pay is horrible, you will learn patience and empathy. As a teller, you’ll come across all types of folks: young, old, rich and poor. As you converse with them and learn about their stories, you’ll learn how to relate to people on a deep and important level.
Overall, you’ll live paycheck to paycheck, cash game to cash game. Not having money will teach you how to be resourceful and most important, practical. You’ll gain an appreciation for simple things, like a bowl of beans and half an avocado for breakfast. In addition, since you’ve seen the bottom, you’ll learn humility. Something that will be important as you move up in your career. During this period you’ll become a king. Because if you can find delight and appreciation in these simple things, then you’ll never be disappointed, because everything will be a welcome surprise. Every event will be magnified and special, be it a 3×3 at In N Out or a pickup soccer game just outside Caffe Amore, surrounded by the warm Modesto evenings.
Because you’re dead broke, you’ll be back at mom and dad’s house. At first, you’re going to hate it. Of course you will, you’re back under their roof and can no longer stay out until whatever hour you please. Take my word for it though, after you move out you’ll be grateful to have spent two more years in your parent’s company. You’ll learn that dad isn’t perfect and that although he’s made a shit ton of mistakes, you love him because he’s the best man you know. Learn from his errors.
You’re going to fight with mom. A lot. It shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as you’ve fought with her at every period of your life. Be nice to her though, she fights because she cares. And beneath it all, she’s your #1 fan. Never forget that. There will be times when she gives you her last $20 just do you can buy gas to get to work. It’s easy to mad at her but remember that you, her oldest son, was her first foray and link with the United States. Imagine leaving your family and the comforts of home to move into a country were you don’t speak the language, don’t understand the customs and where the family you were supposed to marry into doesn’t accept you. Terrifying. And that’s what mom went through. And she still gave her all to give you an opportunity at a better life. Thank her for me (you) by being kind.
You’re lucky to be Miguel’s older brother. Although you love him dearly, you will clash with him a lot during your first few months back in Modesto. Don’t be judgemental though, as he’ll later tell you, he was busy fighting his own demons and his own war. He says you’re an encouragement and an inspiration. So never for a second lower your standards or compromise your virtues. He’s the smartest kid you know and he will learn from you. Be a good example and lead like a man.
Oh Mary. She really did get the best of both mom and dad, didn’t she? She has dad’s personality, mom’s kindness, beauty and intelligence, Miguel’s humor and selflessness and your..well I’m not sure what she got from you but she’ll graduate college. So you (me) must have done something right. Be there for her. She’s perfect as she is just remind her that she’s smarter than she thinks and can do anything she sets her mind to. Be there when she needs you, because at times she will. Don’t be alarmed when rumor has it that she won’t graduate from high school. She’ll be just fine and she’ll find her footing. This is a weird thing to think but listen: Imagine that Mary is dating a guy like you. Did you smile? No? Then change.
Don’t focus too much on what your peers are doing. While they’re day drinking or posting pictures on Facebook about how cool their lives are, you will be reading, learning and internalizing the skills needed to succeed in the new economy. All those hours and books read at Barnes and Noble will pay off, you just see. Stay focused and don’t let bullshit distract you. You’ll miss out on get togethers and some friends will become strangers. But what you will gain out of the sacrifice and hard work will be exponentially better than what you passed up.
I was told that I couldn’t share dates, or get to specific on details. But you may want to stay home on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012. Just think about it.
On a completely unrelated note, you should really cut back on drinking. No one has ever woken up and said “wow, I’m so glad I went out last night! I made great decisions and don’t regret anything I said!” And stop drinking to talk to girls. Most of the good ones in Modesto don’t go to bars. Save the little cash you have and hang with friends at other places.
Ah girls. Girls. Girls. You have more to offer than you know. You’re just being really hard on yourself. So when you cross paths with girls that are interested, don’t shut them out because you’re not where you want to be. Let them in, open up and share your life. The right one will stay. The next five years will be so much fun when you’re sharing the ups and downs with someone. But it starts with you. Quit being a dick to yourself.
Do you booboo, do you. Once you relax and learn patience, you’ll gain confidence. And that will attract the right person into your life. Follow the signs, take risks and now that you don’t get a sequel. There is no “Godfather II” for Eric Ruiz. This is it! I heard 32 year old Eric has a kid with his beautiful, smart wife. So chill out because if we want that for 32 year old Eric, then we will need to work together now! Don’t be so anxious for someone to love you. Shit, it took me (us) 27 years to love us. And as Seneca said “what progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”
Being a friend to yourself means, to paraphrase Seneca, that you’re a friend to all mankind. Powerful, right?
Oh and you’ll love Stoicism. Better get started on that!
Remember when we were little and dad would always yell at us during soccer? “Look up!” Ah, how I hated it. “Sube la cabeza!” I had never seen him so animated. It sucked. But dad was right. You were always too anxious. You played with fear, afraid to make a mistake. You were always unsure of your next move, not knowing whether to go here or there. Well, that has to stop. Now. Relax, take things as they come. Focus on doing the right things every day. We’ll never be perfect. But we can strive for perfection. And that begins with looking up and seeing the field ahead.
Live your life the way Juan Roman Riquelme played soccer. SPOILER ALERT! He retired in February 2015. Live life on your terms, never hurried and always taking the time to appreciate the beauty of the present moment.
In closing, learn from the setbacks you encounter and take advantage of the talent and opportunities that you’ve been given. Above all, have fun with it. Work every day in becoming the best you, day in and day out. Nothing less.
Good luck 2010 version of Eric Ruiz.