Letter to Me, Aged 83

8/365 Matryoshka

Maybe I should be writing all this in bold caps for you my dear, since if you have managed to live this long I’m sure you’re mostly blind and completely deaf by now.  But I’m also certain you have the technology to enlarge my words and project them on to thin air 50 meters high, or convert them into shouting through implanted head phones or some such helpful communication device, all with the touch of your gnarled old fingers, in the year 2032.

Because if you haven’t changed too drastically I know you will have all the latest pads and pods and readers and gadgets at your fingertips, especially if your children and grandchildren still care enough to keep an old lady up to date.  And great-grandchildren.  Wow. Your self from way back here twenty years ago is having a hard time wrapping her head around that one.

So what can I tell you, now that you are a couple of decades older and wiser than you were in 2012?  This is very different from talking to my fourteen year old self (although I’m sure you’re not listening either) because I can’t give you any advice that wouldn’t be hopelessly old-fashioned by now.  All I can do is let you know what I hope in my heart you have become.

1.  Happy.  Please tell me you are happy with the things you’ve done and the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met in this lifetime.  If you’re not, shame on you, and there’s probably some great pills you should be taking for that, you grouchy old bag.

2.  Healthy.  You know, relatively speaking.  I hope your health issues are manageable and you’re not moaning and groaning and complaining all the time.  And I especially hope your main topic of conversation is not a long list of the people you know who died this week.

3.  Independent.  This one is a stretch when you’re in your eighties, but what I mean is that I sincerely hope you can still do many things for yourself on your own.  There is a fine balance here, because you also can’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it.  Just don’t be a burden.  And don’t climb up on the roof simply because you think you can get away with it.  Things like that could put you at the top of somebodys list of people who died this week.

4.  With it and Wise.  Yes, I know you’ve never really been either one of those things, but it’s never too late to try, is it?  If you’re not convinced that what you’re about to say makes sense, just sit there and say nothing.  People will mistake your silence for deep thought.  And I think it’s time you gave up the phrase “life is too short to….” because obviously some lives are not that short after all.

5.  Generous.  You can’t take it with you, whatever it is you’re clinging to, or whatever it is you’ve got in the bank or on paper or cluttering up your house.  If there are people around you who need it more than you do, give it away.  If they throw it in the trash once they’re out of sight, that’s okay too.  What you don’t know can’t hurt you.  And what you no longer have you also no longer have to dust.

6.  Kind and Loving.  Don’t ever stop loving your family and being there for them, no matter how extended or far-flung.  They’re the ones who will carry your memory with them after you’re gone, and it would be nice if those memories could be good and beautiful ones, not the kind that make them shake their heads and roll their eyes and pray they didn’t inherit any of your cantankerous disagreeable old genes.

7. At Peace with the World.   Stop fighting and accept the things you cannot change.  Let all those annoying young people you’re now surrounded by take over.  They have way more time and energy for all this nonsense than you do at this stage in your life.  Take a long nap.  You’ve earned it.

8. Unafraid.  Fear is such a waste of time and energy.  If you’ve been paying attention, you will have deduced from number seven that you don’t have huge amounts of either one of these things to spare. Don’t distress yourself with dark visions of doom.  You know what I’m talking about.  But if you’ve forgotten, never mind, that’s great, forget I mentioned it.  However, you should NOT give up your fear of stairs.  That’s a healthy one.

9. Tolerant, Understanding, Unbiased.  I hope you keep an open mind, even if you’re losing it. Never stop listening.  Never stop learning.

10. At Peace with your Soul.  Never regret who you were and who you are and whatever dumb and stupid things you did with your life.  You did a lot of good things too.  You deserve to be the happy, peaceful, loving soul of your dreams.  If what the psychic told you all those years ago is true, you have eleven more years to go.  I hope you enjoy every single minute of it.