I often see articles on the theme “What I wish I knew in my twenties”, or ” A letter to my 25-year old self”. I have written posts like that myself. While these may be insightful and hopefully offer some guidance to those who are still in their twenties, they are not much help for the rest of us for whom those years are long gone.
However, many of us live more in worry about the future than in regret of the past. Worrying about the future is of course not an ideal way to live either, but at least we can still influence our own future in a very real way.
I decided to take inventory of my life and write a letter to myself in my eighties. What will my days look like then? Am I setting myself up for a long and happy life? I wanted to see if I could defend myself to my future self. I wanted to know if I am risking major regrets down the line or if I will be able to look back on my life with gratitude and pride.
Here is the letter I wrote:
Dear My 80-year old self,
I hope that you are healthy and strong and that you are living a good life. I hope that you live, at least most of the year, in a nice apartment by the sea in Italy (I am planning to buy it for you soon).
I hope that the money I tried to save for you has been enough and that you can eat out and have a good bottle of wine when you feel like it. I hope that you enjoy your morning coffee every day at the local bar with friends, just as I’ve seen so many elderly Italians do.
I do intend to study Italian again by the way, to prepare for you for that. You can’t be the clueless foreigner forever, after all.
I hope that you have forgiven me for the mistakes I have made in the past and for not giving you children or grandchildren. I hope that you have found someone to love and to share your days with. I worry that you are lonely, as I have always been on the move and not allowed you to build strong relationships. I hope it helped you that I stayed a bit longer in a few places as I got older.
I hope that my investments paid off for you and that you profited from that in the long run. I am so curious to know if that startup I invested in is still around. Maybe you’re a millionaire now. 🙂
I hope that you still spend time with your brother and nieces, as you were always close to them. I guess that if you do have a nice place in Italy, they will for sure be visiting on their holidays sometimes. They would be crazy not to.
I hope that you feel satisfied with what you and I have accomplished and with what you have seen. I hope that you feel at peace and calm. I hope that you are proud of all that you have done and that you always took good care of yourself. And I certainly hope that eating all those salads paid off and that you are still feeling strong and energetic.
Are you still hiking? Or at least taking long walks? You know how restless you get and that you always need to move your body.
Did the daily routines I set up help you at all? Did they improve your life in the end? I try to get a little bit better every day and every year. Please be patient with me. I know I have wasted a lot of time in the past, but I am really trying now. Trying to grow. Trying to live life to the fullest in the moment, but to also to think about you.
If it didn’t work out as planned, please know that I did my best. I was never reckless with your life. I did it for you. When I did crazy things and took risks. When I held back and prioritized security. It was all for you. I hope I did the right thing.
I hope that you feel that you will leave a legacy that matters and that you have shared the stories that you wanted to share. I hope they made an impact in other people’s lives. I hope that you still remember the stories. Maybe I should write a few more of them down for you…
I hope that you finally finished writing that book and that your art became popular and sold well. I am so looking forward to reading your book and admiring your art! I can’t wait to see what you have become.
Most of all, I hope that your life is just awesome! I hope that you have saved up many memories that you treasure deeply. I hope that you are still strong and creative enough to travel, explore and make beautiful things, in whatever way you prefer to do that these days.
I hope that you still have many happy years ahead of you.
I want you to know that I love you and that I did my best to make you happy.
Your forty-something self