Dear Me at 80,
Well, Me, you’ve made it to another milestone. You’ve likely cracked a few more phone screens and racked up more casualties in the laundry-black-hole-for-sock-pairs. In summary, you’ve won some and you’ve lost some more, no doubt. Nevertheless, can I offer some suggestions for your life now at age 80? Take it for what it’s worth – this lady giving you advice is half your age…
#1) A WORD ABOUT BUCKET LISTS
For one thing, who is keeping track of the items on your bucket list? Why is this “a thing?” And for heaven’s sake, what happens when you finish checking all of those items off? And why would you opt for YET ANOTHER checklist when there are so many in life as it is?
How about this? Live each day. Don’t turn down opportunities for adventure, for real, for true life. I hope you never stop pursuing true life.
BUCKET LISTS ARE STUPID, don’t have one.
#2) SPEND TIME WISELY
Did you ever just roll around on the floor with a grandkid and giggle? Did you ever pretend you didn’t notice your gigantic milk mustache just so someone else would laugh? Did you ever squeeze mashed potatoes through your teeth? Did you ever have a great sacrilegious laugh in the middle of a quiet church service? Did you do any of these things after the age of 65? I hope so.
SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY, by making sure to do fun and goofy things.
#3) BE MISUNDERSTOOD
Why’d you care so much about what other people thought? Why’d you spend so much time shaving your legs, sister? And why did your email inbox stress you out all those years? When you’re 80, you are going to have more wisdom in your little pinky finger than most people. Don’t waste that wisdom but don’t force it on people either.
In my 40’s (you may remember) I started craving time with the wise women in my midst. They were lovely, confident, and soft – and you can be too. It will be a gift to another woman. Craft that. Living one day at a time steeped in the realization that you’re not the author of your own story will help.
CARE LESS ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK. Be willing to be misunderstood.
#4) STOP JUDGING, GIVE LESS ADVICE
Don’t judge the younger people around you. Navigating life is so difficult. The challenges folks younger than you will face are going to be unique and you won’t be altogether familiar with them. For heaven’s sake – don’t latch onto the notion that you have every answer and can show someone the way. This is not your job. Your job is to love, live and serve as Jesus guides you every day. You’re not the morality police or the values cop.
You just aren’t.
And if at 80 you think you are, you’ll find yourself more and more – um – how do I put this?…. angry and alone.
Oh – and this kind of goes along with not judging the young people. I hope Fox News and anything resembling its fear mongering “news” dies a slow and painful, embarrassing death. I hope you find better things to do with your time.
#6) ASK FOR HELP
When you fall or when you can’t read the newspaper or when you can’t drive – ask someone to help you. And don’t hint about it. Don’t passively aggressively say you sure would love to go to the concert but no one will take you… just ask. People you’re in relationship with will really love helping you with things like this if it’s not a guessing game full of tension and bad vibes.
And even though you’ll think it’s all too expensive, have an updated eyeglasses prescription, get hearing aids. Just spring for those things – they’ll help keep you present with others.
#7) GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER
I hope by now you have told someone that you don’t want any major heroic life-saving measures carried out for you in a health crisis. If not, write that down somewhere right now…on the back of a receipt if you have to. And maybe write down a few of your favorite hymns and passages of scripture for your funeral. I bet you still love “It Is Well” and “Give Me Jesus.”
BOTTOM LINE? Lose the world, invite in heaven as much as possible.
I’m convinced my favorite moments in life have been and will be when I have lost the world’s sense of myself and gotten carried away in a moment of true-ness whether sad, happy, industry or worship.
Last summer, I was taking a walk with my father-in-law (a precious gift in my life who comes to visit with my mother-in-law a few weeks every year) and we were just talking; about his dog growing up, about the indentation a leaf made in the sidewalk so many years ago when the concrete was being poured, about the patch of blue sky off in the distance that was peeking out of a storm cloud. Before I knew it, I had forgotten about my day at work, about whatever kid issue I had decided to worry about. I was just….walking….and talking, decompressing and really living. Figure out how to do that more often. Do that often with the people you love and the people who love you.
Mary Oliver says it better than anybody, I think: “To live in this world, you must be able to do 3 things:
1) To love what is mortal
2) To hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it, and,
3) When the times comes to let it go, let it go.
Sweet readers; what did I miss? What do we need to remember – not lose sight of – years and years from now?
Why is it so easy to romanticize about these kinds of things, projecting all the MOST IMPORTANT ideas and concepts into the future, but so hard to actually live them out now??? I’m totally down with the no bucket list thing. That just perpetuates a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” attitude. Reminds me of all the things I may never do. But the “spend time wisely” deal. Oh man! That one hits me deep down. I’m such a “doer” and a “thinker” — it’s VERY hard for me to just slow down and enjoy the moment. To soak in the present. That’s why I count it such a gift to go on a Young Life camp assignment. We just spent three weeks at Crooked Creek Ranch in the mountains of Colorado and I could do nothing but live in the present. Everyday chores were stripped from me and I got to slow down and enter into the relationships set before me right then and there. And part of my core personality is wired to justify my decisions to everyone and their brother. That definitely gets exhausting! Thanks for reminding me to be true to myself, the God and the people I love. And passive aggression??? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Even though I’m only 41, I feel like I am way up there in years. Maybe it’s being a widow already or already going under the knife with back surgery . . . or trying to step parent . . . who knows, but I seriously feel like I am in my 60’s at the very least. Yet I have nothing figured out. I know some older people right now, that have that thing . . . that peace in the midst of storm . . . that deep love and compassion for others … that relationship with Jesus that is so rooted that a hurricane couldn’t touch it. These women . . . you can sense these things about them from a mile away. Then when you hear their stories, you know how they got that way. I sure hope that when I’m 80, I won’t be living on the same level that I am now. I hope the years between now and then are years to grow rooted in the deep bedrock of God, yet my vision will be from above. Not so in the middle of all that I can’t see a bigger picture, like I am now.