A Letter To My 60-Year-Old Self
Dear 60-year-old me,
Greetings from the year 2020! If you’re reading this, you’ve managed to stay alive for six decades, which is a great feat in itself. Let’s take a moment of silence to appreciate that, give yourself a pat on the back while we’re at it. Now, I’m sure you’re wiser than me since you’ve experienced the vicissitudes of life in far greater measure, but I’m also sure that your memories of me have faded to a point where thinking about me feels like watching a movie in sepia tint.
It’s true that you stand at a great height and can see a larger expanse, but since I’m standing much lower than you, closer to the ground, I can see all the little things in greater detail, adorned with vibrant colors. If I could only request one thing from you, it would be to never, ever lose the colors in your life. I don’t want you to find your colors fading into a dull grey, 60-year-old me, and don’t you let the crazy part of you die in this bizarre roller coaster we call life.
The reason I’m writing to you now is to remind you of who you were 45 years ago and to remind you of what youth is like. Forty-five years… That’s a whole lifetime; I wonder what you’ll think of me while you’re reading this letter. Will you smile when thinking about who you used to be, basking in fond memories of life deliberately spent, or perhaps frown and shake your head with disappointment? *shudders* I’ll find out in 45 years.
Now, here’s a little secret to remaining close to the child in you: don’t grow old. You heard that right — stay new.
Don’t you have beautiful heirlooms, dazzling chandeliers and ageless furniture, which never deteriorate no matter how “old” they technically get? They remain classy— vintage, so to speak. ‘Good as new’, don’t they say? But being vintage and remaining ‘good as new’ requires a lot of effort. And no, I’m not talking about physical appearance—although taking care of that won’t hurt either.
The most important thing that needs to be kept as good as new is your mind, through careful maintenance and refurbishment. If you are to understand the people of your time, you will have to read and watch, with great caution, the thoughts, and ideas prevalent among the youth at the time; you’ll need to be aware of the things they find entertaining and the things they find enthralling—as well as the evolving thought process— without being dismissive and judgemental of them. I can tell you for a fact that they will be miles away from your own value system and interpretation of the world, but being disparaging of what the new generation values won’t help.
It’ll drive you absolutely insane, you won’t understand the reasons behind what they do at times, but you’ll have to tolerate it. In fact, you’ll need to keep an open mind, for it may well be that the things you considered acceptable that turn out to be truly outrageous—don’t forget that there was a time when slavery and domestic violence were considered acceptable. It won’t harm you to try and understand where your generation had been wrong, too.
You’ll need to read as much of the contemporary literature of the time as you can, and watch contemporary movies and read/watch the news to be aware of events around you. You’ll need, beyond anything, to listen to what the youth is saying, analyze the things they say and discuss them along with your own ideas. If you feel they need guidance, discuss your ideas with them based on reason and sensibility, without resorting to the clichéd appeal: “Back in my day…” or “When I was your age, we used to…” I know for a fact that I absolutely resent being presented with these lines, and the kids you interact with when you’re old and gray will, too.
How else do you remain new? By adopting the gadgets and technology of the age you live in. I understand it won’t be easy at all since I can’t even imagine what ‘technology’ will look like 45 years from now. But I need you to recall how difficult it was to first learn how to edit videos. To learn how to speak in front of an audience with confidence. To keep a cool mind even though you were boiling inside. Everything is difficult for the first time, but you’ve mastered bigger things than a new-age gadget, so I’m expecting you to be interested in using them even now when you’re 60. Mastering how to use the mind-blowing inventions that the new generation comes up with will let you into a fresh world, and you’ll be much happier.
I know, I know, you probably don’t need all this advice from me, but taking a walk down memory lane when you’re bored will be quite the adventure. I’d give anything to hear from my eleven or twelve-year-old self right now, but since I can’t change the past, I can at least try to send a letter to the future. I have no idea how to express everything I want to say in a single letter, there’s just so much I want to add. Here’s to hoping that you loved hearing from as much as I loved writing to you.
I’m hoping you’ll stay new forever.
Your inexperienced, impatient, feisty, naïve 15-year-old self
G – II
Roots Millennium Schools