Yo! Wassup! Or in the vernacular of the elderly: Greetings Elderly Self! I am simply delighted to be writing this letter to… You. (For the sake of saving myself endless confusion I’ll be doing this in third person.)
(Although, is my future self technically a ‘third person’ kind of a deal?)
(I mean, to be talking in third person I really need to be talking about myself… and technically you are me, but not yet…)
(I’m confused. I think it may be terminal.)
Anyway, I know that traditionally these letters to yourself are usually done the other way around – ie. My 25 year old self should be writing to my 15 year old self, and offering the wisdom gained from age, and experience.
However. I’ve never really enjoyed constraining my thinking to traditional pathways, and so: I am writing to my older self, in order to offer advice gained from neither age, nor experience. (Which begs the question does this count as ‘wisdom’ – or even good advice?… Who knows!)
So Shannon. It is the year 2083, and you are 98 years old. In the 73 years that separate us you’ve had countless experiences that I can’t even dream of seeing in my future at this point.
At this stage in my life I can’t even imagine being 38, let alone 98, and so I’d like to offer my congratulations on that, for starters.
As to what your life looks like at 98? No doubt you’re surrounded by animals – it’s always dreamed of having a ton of pets, and the space to own them all. You probably own a house, it’s been another dream of yours – to have a space all of your own. You managed to get through 30th, 50th, and 70th birthdays, and hopefully you did it with grace – despite actively despising birthdays at times.
You’ve probably traveled far wider than I ever thought possible – or perhaps you traveled far less widely… I know whatever the outcome , you highly value any travel you have managed to do, and probably retain a healthy curiosity about the world around you.
In your lifetime I hope you have loved and been loved. I hope you have known amazing people. I hope you have a family – at 25 I am completely uninterested in pregnancy, babies, and children, but I do know that in your life you will probably have built a family – even if it is a non-traditional one. If you managed to get over the whole grossness of pregnancy, birth and babies… Well congratulations. I guess.
If you built a family through another means: good for you. Also? You should probably track down everyone who told you at 20 that you’d ‘change your mind’ about children and tell them that you told them so.
Possibly if you could also manage a small victory dance… Well, your 25 year old self would be very very grateful.
As for advice…
At 98 you’re probably not so active any more. I hope you still make an effort to get up and about, though. If not… Well I feel sorry for the people around you. You get all kinds of crabby if you don’t get outside and moving every day.
I hope you’re still matching your underwear, because that whole ‘just in case of an accident’ thing is (let’s face it) much more likely at your age. You at least want to know that you’re wearing a nice matching brassiere and pantaloons if you have to get mouth to mouth from some hot young paramedic.
I also advise you to keep your sense of humor. I can imagine 98 is a rough age, at times, but your own personal sense of humour has proven to get you through some very rough times indeed. Some days it’s all you need.
I advise you to keep up with the modern technology. You know from experience that there is nothing more frustrating than trying to tech-support an older person through some vital communication process… Also? You probably hate being told what to do by people younger than yourself. It will be easier all round if you just kept on top of the new stuff rather than having to ask a 20 year old how to ride your hoverboard.
I hope you’ve managed to figure out exactly why people seem to think you’re smart, and I really, and honestly hope that you are capitalising on this in your old age. Your name, afterall does mean ‘little old wise one’.
At 25 I’m learning the value in doing scary new things. I’m hoping this is a reminder to you to keep up with the new and the scary. Only… well not too scary. You’re 98, and your ticker probably isn’t all that it used to be. Instead of rollercoasters, trying a new sport, or piercings, perhaps you could try the beef on Tuesdays instead of the chicken. Or go for a wheelchair ride in a different direction around the block. Or maybe try a new toothpaste. Whatever you chose make sure it scares you a little. You learn through scary new experiences, and being 98 is no excuse for not wanting to learn new things.
And one last piece of advice? Fake a heart attack every so often. Think of it as a safety drill. That way if and when the real thing happens, everyone will know what to do. Remember the goal isn’t 100 – it’s immortality… Or barring that, just a long life, well lived.
Either way the heart attack drills will give you something fun to do on a boring Sunday night, and keep everyone around you on their toes.
Finally? I hope you still have people around you that inspire you, and I hope that at some point in your life you’ve managed to inspire someone else.
So with that I want to congratulate you for reaching 98. It’s a good age. Keep practicing your wise elderly person nod, and make sure you’re keeping groovy enough to keep the whippersnappers at bay.
(aka, your 25 year old self.)