Tag Archives: advice

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.

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 100: Dr. Wareham

I made it to Day 100!

I wanted to find someone special to send my letter to today – and I found someone! Meet Dr. Wareham: a centenarian from Loma Linda, CA who up to five years ago was still working. And while he retired as a cardiothoracic surgeon at 74, he continued working and teaching until five years ago.

Check out this report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta – his story promises to inspire you!

Here’s to 265 more handwritten letters and long lives for all of us.

Day 100

Dear Dr. Wareham,

I hope my letter finds you and Mrs. Wareham doing well. Your story featured by Dr. Sanjay Gupta inspired me to write you a letter. I have a commitment to write a handwritten letter every day for a year and today is day 100. As I celebrate 100 handwritten letters this year I can’t think of anyone else better to share this moment with than someone who is 100 and is living life to the fullest. 

I've been embossing the letter numbers on some of the envelopes.

I’ve been embossing the letter numbers on some of the envelopes.

Your story was particularly moving for me because of your lifelong work as a cardiothoracic surgeon. My mother suffered three heart attacks, the first of which she had at the age of 40. She died in 2006 at the age of 63. I’m 41 now and know that this family history doesn’t bode well for me and my risk of developing coronary artery disease is considerably higher.

Your blood cholesterol of 117 is phenomenal and encourages me to continue working at improving my health. You’ve inspired me to reduce my meat consumption even further – maybe even eliminate it all together.

If you have any specific advice for me or suggestions of resources to help me improve my health, I’d love to hear from you. 

With deep admiration and respect,
Reed Sandridge