Dear You (on your 60th birthday):
Sixty is getting up there. You’re not young, but you’re not old either. I mean, not really old. Not ancient. Kind of old. Getting old. To your 20-something friends and family you may be REALLY old, but what does it matter, really?
Since this is a big milestone, I came up with some advice for you on How to Be Sixty.
You were born human and 60 years later you still are. You might be strong, brave at times, powerful on occasion, but you are still human, just like everyone else. Trying to be perfect doesn’t really get you anywhere. Seriously, you should know this by now, but I’ve figured out that you’re a slow learner.
You have way more than you don’t have. Be grateful.
Take care of your health. Not that you don’t, you do. Keep it up. Maybe take it up a notch. Your thighs are starting to look like mom’s and they’ll only get chunkier as you get older. Some of that jiggle is inevitable, of course, and you can try to accept it. But remember that you love hanging out at the pool with the jiggly old bad-ass ladies who swim.
When the voice in your head starts to say “You’re so political. You’re even getting a little militant. You need to calm down”, tell that voice to shut the fuck up. Trying to decide that there is a “right amount” of outrage or fear to express in this crazy stupid world is just dumb. Everything you feel and say is true (mostly), and you could be louder. These problems aren’t going away, and part of your job, yes YOUR JOB, is to help solve them, even if it’s just bit by bit in your corner of the world. Own it.
Whenever you feel like your writing sucks, or your little art experiments suck, just call on your art helpers (they know who they are), or pick up Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic and read it again for inspiration. Just stick with it. You don’t suck. And by the way, don’t call your art “little”.
I’m glad that you’ve started writing poetry, and I know you like to delve into the abyss, but here’s the thing – – if all of your poems are about Melancholy, Loneliness, and Dread you will probably end up depressing yourself. You could lighten up a bit. Maybe try writing a poem about kittens or cookies. Or kittens eating cookies. Or cookies that come to life and eat kittens.
Procrastination is often rooted in perfectionism. See paragraph #1. You ain’t gettin’ any younger, as they say. Tick tock.
Pledge to embrace your Bossy and Judging self. When Franny was 4 or 5 and gave you that moniker (which has stuck with you for going on 15 years), she nailed it, and I think she knew that Bossy and Judging was not your bad self, but your bad-ass self.
On the other hand, try to be more loving, even if you don’t always know what that means. It might help if you took up singing or dancing or playing guitar. I won’t suggest that you smile more, that would be rude and anti-feminist.
You have nothing to prove. You have permission to be audacious, ffs.
And one more thing – short grey hair is a good look on you. It’s your hair, yes, but Brandy (hair stylist and master of the f-bomb) rocks. Everyone needs a Brandy…or sometimes just a little brandy.
That’s enough for now. Happy Birthday to You.
* or to everyone who feels 60 now, even if you’re not, or who might be 60 someday, and hopefully you will, or was 60 in the past.
©Rebecca Larson 2020