A Letter to 70-year-old Me

Dear 70-year-old me, 

Firstly, congratulations. You made it. 

I’m writing this to you from Mum and Dad’s couch at the ripe age of 24. I’m moving to Europe in a month and I’m kind of living between houses, mostly on the couches and in the beds of friends. I’m self-employed, however I’ve only been working around 5 hours a week lately. I've shaved off my workload so I can enjoy my final month in Australia on dance floors and under waterfalls. 

To be honest, I’m kind of scared about what the earth is going to look like if it’s still around in 2065. The Great Barrier Reef probably doesn’t exist anymore. Thankfully, the big supermarket chains have just banned single-use plastic bags so I'd like to think we've extended the life of some marine species by a few years. I hope the 24-year-olds of your day don’t even know what plastic bags are. 

I can’t comprehend where technology will be at, either. Maybe you’re on Mars right now.  Maybe you don’t know how to read anymore because all of this is just channeling through a chip in your brain. It’s funny how chips can be potatoes and also things that store entire worlds of data. They can both be fried, too. 

I’ve got a real thirst for life at the moment. I feel like I’m on the brink of a pretty remarkable time in history, especially for young women. I mean, we’re still fucking dying at the hands of male violence every damn week, but our voices are louder. We’re standing together. It’s really empowering. I hope the young women you know feel safe walking down the street and don’t feel like they have to put a thumb over the head of their bottles in clubs anymore. Remember when we used to do that? 

I’m really fucking confused about God right now. I’m sure you’re even more confused now that, objectively speaking, you’re a heck of a lot closer to death. I wonder what you think of death. Right now, it doesn't really scare me. Not because I think I'm invinsible or anything, but because I'm happy with what I've done so far. Of course, I don't feel finished... but if someone told me I was going to die in 100 days, I wouldn't deviate from the path I'm on. I wonder if you maintained this perspective throughout your 40s and 50s and 60s. 

I hope you haven’t dyed your hair. There are probably a handful of people in your life who haven’t made it far enough to see their hair greying at the roots, greying all the way to the ends. Remember how proud Dad was of Mum’s grey hair? He believed it was such an honour to grow old together. I hope you haven’t forgotten the fact that age is a gift. 

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I hope you wrote a book. You used to be so damn scared of committing to a big project because of the damage your pride would suffer if it wasn’t purchased by a publishing house or if it wasn’t enjoyed by others. I hope you just wrote a bloody book regardless. 

I hope you’re wildly inappropriate at family dinners. I feel like old people get away with stuff. I saw an elderly man cross a busy street in Sydney just last week. He didn’t care, he didn’t even wait for a break in traffic. He just put one foot forward, raised a hand to slow down the five lanes of traffic and got on with his life. Nobody seemed to care. I hope you’re stepping into metaphorical traffic with dinner conversations. Now’s the time to talk about your experiences with sex and drugs. There’s no career to damage and no digital footprint to follow you in a way that will haunt you. 

I hope you’ve tasted love, I hope you’ve drunk litres of the stuff, I hope you’re drunk on it now! I can’t imagine being loved up but I do hope that future me is. I don't mind if it's not a husband. Maybe you're juggling a few flings in your old age. That would be pretty badass. 

I hope you still dance. I hope that at the weddings of younger generations you’ve still got the energy to get out of your chair and swing your hips. Flirt incessantly with the young men, they secretly love it. They’ll probably joke about it on social media (if it still exists?) and post a photo of you. Make sure you keep sticking your butt out when you drop it low. Embrace it all. 

I hope you've retired now. But not retired-retired. I hope you're still committing to a life of service. I don't know what kind of impact one person can truly make, and I'm a little confused about where I can slot in to contribute to systemic change, but I hope at 70, you feel like you've found that place. I'm sure there's still lots more work to do. The average life expectancy of a woman in Australia is around 85, so thankfully you still have 15 more years. A lot can be done in that time I should think. 

There are some things I pray you remember. I hope you're sitting back in a cane chair on a balcony somewhere sunny and you close your eyes and think about them for a while. Maybe roll yourself a joint. Marijuana isn't legal yet, but it will be in 2065. If not, you know what to do. 

Remember this? Sitting by Bellambi pools at sundown with your housemates sinking tinnies and watching the cockatoos perch on the fences of the housing commission blocks in your cul-de-sac. The taste of Mum’s chocolate cookies with the coloured sprinkles on top. The sound of Dad’s laughter after he’d say something that definitely wasn’t as funny as he thought it was. Your first teethy kiss in the church storeroom. Gloria playing the piano in the morning before school. Running through the ocean in the nude in the middle of the day with long lost lovers you recall only by their profession or by the weird inanimate object that lived on the dashboard of their car. The feeling of the wind on your body when you rode your motorbike through Wollongong naked. Camping on the beach in Italy. Hiking in Borneo. Smoking on the balcony in Sri Lanka. Climbing up the ladder above the peach trees and the fog in Araluen valley as the sun rose. The first time you heard ‘Fly’ by Ludovico Einaudi.

I hope you can think of a thousand more beautiful moments. I hope you've written them all down somewhere, so you can hand them over to a little one in your life. I hope you've maintained the belief that a mortgage and a career won't make you happy, that it's the combination of moments of love that make you the richest person alive. 

All my love in youthful ignorance,