My 80 year old self wrote me a letter. You see, my 80 year old self is pretty confident in who she is, she’s weathered some storms and she knows what’s up. She looked on my current state of affairs and saw that I needed some ‘shaping up’, so as the elderly do, she gave me some unsolicited advice.
I see you’re struggling. I see you’re somewhat unhappy. I see that you’re afraid and uncertain and not sure what the future holds. I see these things in you, but when I look back on our life, I don’t really remember them. I only remember them now, because you are highlighting them to me.
When I look back on the years of our life I remember happy things. In old age you only get to keep certain memories, the rest seem to evaporate and go I don’t know where. Forgetfulness is as sure as a setting sun. When filing through my mind, deciding what thoughts were worth the effort to keep and which ones weren’t, I didn’t choose to keep the sadness, fear or uncertainty. So why are you choosing to keep them now? I’m choosing to keep the memories that made me laugh, the ones that brought joy, the times I was pushed out of my comfort zone and the end result was worth it. Why aren’t you choosing to keep these now?
Dear one, you’re still so young. If only you knew how young you were and how much time you had, you would not be so hard on yourself. There is time. Don’t stress about if ‘today is being wasted’. It is not a waste. To be honest with you, my 80 year old brain doesn’t even remember what we did on the day you read this. I’m not sure I remember that week or month for that matter. I do remember what it was like to be young though, to have energy to work hard and stay awake for a full day. If you think you aren’t making enough of your day right now, you’re going to be very upset with me for wasting my day with multiple naps, tea and writing this letter. You are doing well. Don’t focus on just the day, but the larger picture of God’s work.
Young one, if only you could see what God was doing right now. If only you could see what he was preparing and where it will take us, you would not think your day wasted. You will realize what little control you had over any of it and how greatly God was in control all along. Learn to let go, sooner than later, you will thank yourself for doing so. Learn to once again define life by those small things. You used to be so good at that. Learn to do it again. Trust me, it’s where the joy is found. Once you get to my age you will learn that the big stresses in life were momentary, it’s those small moments of joy I’m choosing to place in the very valuable space in my memory.
I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry, we are fine. We are at a place of peace, content and happy. We want for nothing. Remember to enjoy what you have while you have it, I’d kill for that hair and body again. I know you criticize it, but it’s fleeting so enjoy it. Don’t take any relationship for granted. Community is the backbone to life. Enjoy just one thing from each day. I don’t care what it is, it could be your morning coffee or a conversation, but really enjoy it. Take in the smell, sounds, sites, taste and peace of the moment. The peace is always there when you’re still enough to find it. But do us a favour and single out just one moment of the day to enjoy to it’s fullest.
You’re just fine. I don’t remember it any different. So be fine. When you get to my age, in 45 years, you’ll understand that life is too short to not enjoy it. Accept it for what it is and embrace it. You’re doing just fine.
80 year old Shonah