Day 365: 67-year-old me

My colleague Jake gave me the idea to write the last letter to my future self – not like Matthew McConaughey style where I basically thank myself for being perfect, but a letter to perhaps remind myself of things that I may have lost sight of over time.

Day 365-3Today may be the last blog post of Year of Letters as the project comes to a close. I’ve written 365 letters, albeit not one every day like I hoped to. That proved to be a bigger challenge some days, but I kept mostly to it. I did fall seriously behind on the blogging aspect of the project, but I’d like to think that the absence of some posts were as a result of me spending real time with the people around me that I love rather than in front of my computer screen.

People have asked me what I will do next year. I’ve decided to do a year of writing – but instead of writing so many letters (don’t worry, I’ll still be writing letters too), I’ll focus on finishing my book on the Year of Giving that I have more or less abandoned this year as a result of a lack of time.

If you can be in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday, January 5th, I hope you’ll join me at McClellan’s Retreat for a little celebration of another project in the books. Until then, I hope this project has inspired you to get some stationery and write some letters by hand. Trust me, the people who receive them will appreciate it more than you will know. Or as writer Ross McCammon put it, “A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card but probably not more than a $200 gift card.”

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for the letters.

Day 365-2

Dear 67-year-old me,

Congratulations on living 67 years – a quarter of a century more than when you (me) wrote this letter.

I wonder what the biggest changes in your life have been? Maybe you’re married now and have a family? You would be a great best friend and life-partner for someone and an even better father. I hope you have the opportunity to do both. If you do, here are a few things to remember:

  • Show your wife how thankful you are to be navigating this world together
  • Think each day how you can make her day a little better, don’t keep score
  • Be careful when teasing her – sometimes you go too far
  • Say you’re sorry first
  • Your parents allowed you to do a lot, they didn’t care how you cut your hair or what kind of clothes you wore (that’s obvious by some school pictures) Let your kids do the same.
  • Neither one of your parents were vocally judgmental about the decisions that you made
  • Mom and Dad sacrificed a tremendous amount and as a result you and Ryan turned out pretty good. Accept that you too will do this. It’s not about you.
  • Spend time following your children’s interests even if those interests are of no interest to you
  • Avoid pursuing perfection in your children or in you as a father and a husband
  • Always tell them “I love you” even if you’re in public surrounded by their friends.

 How is your health? I’d be foolish not to wonder about that. Mom didn’t even make it to 67. You need to continue to exercise regularly and watch your diet. How is your LDL? I just had it checked and it was 127 mg/dl which is too high. Oh, and I’m currently 5’9” and weigh 170lbs. I bet you’ve shrunk and put on a few pounds. While we’re on the subject of health, I should ask how your right shoulder is holding up. I get it operated on next Thursday so hopefully it goes well and you’ve got an arm as strong as Stephen Strasburg. Are you even still a Nationals fan? Did you go see them when they won the World Series?

Day 365I have so many other questions for you. Like where have you traveled to? When did you finally finish writing your book? Who has influenced your life the most? What other year-long projects have you done? What have been the happiest moments of these last 25 years? Notice I didn’t ask any questions about what TV shows you may have watched or the amount of time you spent at the office. It doesn’t matter and you should limit the time you spend on both.

I hope that you have a good relationship with your children and you trust them. Take time to consider the advice they give you. Their mind is probably sharper than yours and they can see when your ideas are no longer current with the faster pace of society.

Work hard to build a strong community of friends. Embrace people until they give you a reason not to. If you’re not sure if you should take part in something, err on the side of saying yes. Social isolation is the harbinger of death. Volunteer; help a neighbor or friend with an important project. Serve as a mentor to someone, you certainly benefited from the kindness of others as a younger man.

Finally, lighten up a little. You used to be more fun and carefree. You worried less about the small things and poured your energy into large canvasses of inspiring work. You chose being happy over being right. It’s a better, and healthier, way to live.

Laugh, love and hold tightly the people and things that really matter – let everything else slip away.

Love,
Me (You)

P.S. And keep writing letters – they convey a meaning unlike other forms of communication. I just hope your handwriting has improved!

Day 360: Kendra and Travis

A handmade card and envelope .

A handmade card and envelope .

Kendra and Travis are a wonderful couple who live just a few blocks away from me. As you’ll read in my letter, I met them back in 2011 when I was doing my Year of Volunteering. I signed up to volunteer at the Our City Film Festival – now called simply Our City Festival. The backstory about the joke in the letter about the volunteer named Roy is that he turned out to be Kendra’s father. She was giving him a hard time and I thought, poor guy just came out to volunteer! It turns out he is a world-renowned eye surgeon and successfully performed my LASIK surgery two years later.

Day 360

Kendra and Travis,

Another year goes by and I sit down and reflect on it. I often think about those who I wish I had spent more time with – you two certainly fit that category.

I still remember first meeting you back in 2011 at the Our City Film Festival – and how you (this is directed at Kendra) were so hard on that one volunteer – Roy! He was way overqualified. So much so that I trusted him to do my eye surgery!

I always enjoy spending time with you, sharing food, enjoying beers and talking about how to solve the city’s, or even the world’s, problems. Somebody once told our friend Kim Perry that they liked the “way she moved in this world.” I think I’ll adopt that phrase and it use it for the two of you.

If you’re free on Jan. 5th I hope you’ll join me at McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont to celebrate my Year of Letters – speaking of which, you are Day 360!

Happy New Year!
Reed

Day 359: Santa Claus

Merry Christmas!

Today I share a personal grievance I’ve had with the pudgy, bearded one who bears gifts on this day. I’ve held this in for 23 years, but I simply cannot go on pretending like I’m fine about what happened. Because, I’m not.

Day 359

I hope you enjoyed the cookies and milk I left out for you – I see you left some of the cookies, you must be watching your figure.

Dear Santa,

Merry Christmas! I hope you made it safely back to the North Pole – you must be exhausted, delivering all those gifts around the world. Thankfully you enjoyed good weather in most parts of the U.S. – in fact it was so warm you must have been roasting in your suit.

gabrielleanwarI didn’t ask for anything this year. In fact, it’s been a long time since I have. It was 1992, the movie Scent of a Woman came out that year. While most people remember the film for Al Pacino’s portrayal of Lt. Col Frank Slade, my fondness of it is solely for Gabrielle Anwar – the stunningly beautiful brunette who glides across the dance floor with Slade in one of the scenes. I was in love with her and all I asked for that year was for you to bring her to me. Perhaps there wasn’t enough room on your sled or you couldn’t find her, but I was devastated when I woke up and found that she wasn’t under , uhm….the tree, that’s it. And while I did appreciate the photo you brought me of her, it fell way short of satisfying all of my desires.

Day 359-2Anyway, If you would like to make good on that today, I’d be ok with that and I’ll forgive the whole ’92 debacle. If you still can’t find her (I think she’s in Miami these days), I’ll settle for Charlize Theron or Brazilian model Adriana Lima. I’m flexible.

Thanks for all you do – it really is remarkable how much you get done in just one night.

Enjoy your 364 days off,
Reed Sandridge
PO Box 53065
Washington, DC 20009

Day 357: Chris

Day 357

The paper under this card to Chris is the Lotka paper mentioned below.

The holidays for me are always a time to reflect on the year – to reflect on things that I am thankful for. I’m fortunate to work with some terrific people – on them is Chris. She used to be my boss – then we added another layer of management (organizations like to do that!) and now she is my boss’s boss.

It is a real pleasure and honor to work on her team. She likes to write handwritten letters to people so I made her some homemade stationery from supplies I picked up at Paper Source.

Day 357-2

Chris,

It is truly a pleasure to be a part of our team – thank you [for] your leadership and friendship. It’s a tremendous part of what makes working at WWF so enjoyable. 

Some of the cards I made from supplies from my local Paper Source store in Georgetown.

Some of the cards I made from supplies from my local Paper Source store in Georgetown.

I know you like to write handwritten notes so I made you some stationery – if you look closely you may even see some Lotka paper I used as envelope liners – they’re a highly renewable fiber made from a plant from Nepal. 

Happy New Year to you, Paul & Ned,
-Reed

Day 352: Leo

Today has been a great day. I finalized details on the Year-End Celebration – which you should come to! It’ll be on Jan. 5th from 4-8PM at McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont. Come and meet many of the people who have been recipients of my letters as well as a few who even penned me a handwritten note as well. If that wasn’t enough – it gets better. If you make a tax-deductible donation to Street Sense, a nonprofit that is close to my heart, you’ll get some great drink specials and a special gift from me!

Today’s recipient has played a key role in my Year of Letters. It’s Leo – my mail carrier. He is friendly and courteous and always delivers a smile when I see him. My neighbors and I are extremely fortunate to have Leo and I thought I would give him a small gift to show him my appreciation. I wrote him a check and tucked it in today’s handmade card.

 

Day 352

 

Leo,

You are always a pleasure to when I am fortunate enough to run into you while you are delivering the mail in my neighborhood. Thank you for your kindness and friendship. Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays. 

Reed Sandridge

P.S. You’ve been a critical part of my Year of Letters – making sure all my mail is picked up and delivered properly. You’re the best!

Day 352-2