letter from my 90yr old self…

{Instead of writing a letter to your 23yr old self, what might it be like to receive a letter from your 90yr old self? Seems to me its the difference between knowing-what-I-know-now and dreaming-what-I-dream-now. I invite you to read and then possibly dream up a similar letter from your ancient self}

Dear John,

That ache in your elbow? Yes, its arthritis. There’ll be days when it’ll hurt like hell, but it won’t kill you, trust me. Advil is your friend. Keep your fingers crossed for that totally white hair and beard combination. It takes a few more years but the evolution comes to pass and getting to play Santa every Christmas afterwards is pure unadulterated joy. Don’t fear the extra pounds around the middle, a part of the gig is fitting in the suit. And the poetry? Well, it takes you places you wouldn’t believe if I told you, so I’m not, just keep stubbornly writing what you see when you look. I know you feel like life is slipping through your fingers right now, especially with the kids, but time’s a handful of melted butter. It still feels that way at 90. You’ll live out the details, and all won’t be rosy, but I can tell you the kids are going to be okay, they really are. You’re going be taken aback at the love you’ll feel for your grandchildren. To hold them soon after they’re born will unravel you, I’m warning you. In those moments you will love your children even deeper than you do now. I know you find that hard to believe, but its true. Along those lines, resist the temptation to give your opinion on the names your grandchildren receive. 

Your best friend at 44 is still your best friend at 90. Here’s the deal – you’re not ever going to make gobs of money but your marriage endures and that’s the prize. Sure, the two of you ease into that ‘cranky elegance’ phrase you copied down from the Harrison book. One thing – stay very close to her…just trust me. She keeps you tethered to this world and that will prove vital for the second half of your life. That trip the two of you will take in a few years, the one to New York in October? That’ll feel as financially foolish as anything you’ve ever done, but do it anyway. The leaves will be turning in Central Park and the afternoons you walk together there will be like the rich crimson of your first year of marriage back in Texas. You’ll walk hand in hand, laughing alot, and I have to tell you that’s what you remember at 90. God this life is beautiful. Should she find a bracelet of blue glass beads in a little shop in the village – buy it. It’ll be a gift that will turn around and be a talisman for your marriage, its powers restorative like the fabled unicorn’s horn.

Finally I want to remind you of something: you must be tested in all things as all men, so in years to come the evening train will rattle your bones. I won’t lie, that grief is going to geld you for a season. The darkness will be as you’ve not yet seen causing you to curse both God and man. God can handle it and the man that can’t isn’t worth a damn in the first place. Such are the shadows in the valley we all must walk. You’ll make it through as others have, but you’ll need a little something. We have an affinity for words, you and I, and these will prove both solace and grit. Take and eat them, they are the salutation of angels and the benediction Bruce Wayne heard in that fateful alleyway: don’t be afraid.


your 90yr old self

p.s. – Brennan was right…all is grace.

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  1. HeidiRenee on January 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    *sweet tears*
    the line about the bracelet unraveled me – well done!

  2. Joann on January 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    So very beautiful!

    • thebeautifuldue on January 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you, Joann…that phrase means a great deal.

  3. Lisa on January 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    In tears…..thanks for sharing this morning, John. Needed some perspective.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Great to hear from you, Lisa…this one simmered for about three days before I posted it.

  4. Jo Saxton on January 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Just beautiful. That is all.

  5. Cheryl Hyatt Smith on January 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Exhaling slowly here, breathing in deeply at these beautiful, wise words.

    Grace indeed.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Cheryl, thanks for leaving a string of lovely words…indeed.

  6. sethhaines on January 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Yeah, man… I like this.

    I like this a lot.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Gracias, senor Haines…hope these new year days are treating you well.

  7. SeanTownsend on January 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Really enjoyed the read today, John.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Thank you, Sean…it’s great to hear from you!

  8. katie on January 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I don’t really have anything to say after reading this lovely self-to-self letter. Just wanted to stand here in your comments section and wistfully smile at it.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Katie, thanks for standing and smiling…that speaks volumes.

  9. Amber on January 11, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I could write and erase the many things I’d like to say in response to this, but I’ll just leave it at

    thank you, brother.

    Also when you say damn, it reminds of the first post I read of yours. That was a good day.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      You are stirring memory, Amber…for that and your ‘thank you’ I say ‘thank you back.’

  10. On Letter Narrative | Seth Haines on January 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    […] Amber and I experimented with some story-telling letters.  On Tuesday, John Blase did the same.  Go read his letter then come back here.  Do you like the correspondence as a form of narrative story telling?  Why […]

  11. Ann Kroeker on January 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Time’s a handful of butter. Yum. I love that.

    Though it’s all about the slippery dripping away of days, everyone knows that life tastes best slathered with the stuff, so don’t hold too tight, and mix up a batch of biscuits while you’re at it.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you, Ann…I try to make biscuits every chance I can, they help the butter linger.

      • Ann Kroeker on January 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

        Speaking of lingering, John, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to create a link to this (we call it a “stub”) that will go live 8am Wednesday at The High Calling. I’d like people to visit (or revisit) this post and linger over your advice…and perhaps write something of their own.

  12. Charity Singleton on January 12, 2012 at 12:50 am

    I wish you could write me a letter from my 90-year-old self. Your 44-year-old self has more wisdom than 90-year-old self will. I loved the advice to take and eat the words; I love the words too. I have a feeling they will always be “it” for me too.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Charity, hi! Thanks for stopping in…Aw, I bet you can write a splendid letter from your 90yr old self…give it a whirl.

  13. Time Traveleing With Letters | Messy Canvas on January 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

    […] blogs I read, and I came across a different spin on this letter writing idea. You can read about it here. I especially love the parts where the older version suggests to the younger version to take risks, […]

  14. shrinkingthecamel on January 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I have a feeling these words to yourself somehow bound you, giving a sense of purposeful grounding. Therapeutic, even. There are some strong words there – healing, hopeful. And beautiful.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for taking a moment to comment, Bradley…’grounded’ things aren’t invincible, but they are a little safer.

  15. Linda Thomas on January 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I think I just read something that could be a turning point for me in my old age (64). Your words and ponderings have left me kinda speechless…. But you can be sure I’ll read this again and again and learn from you and find direction and inspiration.

    I found your blog today through The High Calling on Facebook. I’m so thankful.


    • thebeautifuldue on January 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Linda, I’m glad you found your way over here too…come back soon and thank you very much for your words.

  16. Passion Scribe Lyriic on January 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I needed this. Before I read it, I was scared. I was scared that I needed to read it, and act upon it. Something just told me I’ll need; and I did!

    This may very well be one of those monuments, this gypsy heart of mine will come to eternally cherish. You know? That place in one’s journey where you look back upon, and say, “Yes..it was that. It made all the difference.”

    Thank you for writing this, for sharing your heart. This post was recommended by someone who inspires me, and I’m glad I made time for it.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 15, 2012 at 4:37 am

      Passion Scribe Lyriic, I’m glad you followed the recommendation…and I’m glad the words stirred your heart. Thank you for your words…mercy.

  17. A Letter to Amber–Future Fantasy on January 16, 2012 at 8:01 am

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  18. Megan Willome on January 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I needed this today.

  19. Valerie on January 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    another lonely soul reaching out to the world for understanding amidst the pain

  20. Jennifer@GDWJ on January 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    People talk a lot about the world being a place filled with brokenness and rancor. That, it is. But it is also this: rich crimson, blue-bead bracelets, playing Santa, holding grandbabies, spontaneous trips to far-away places.

    Yes, life is beautiful indeed.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 19, 2012 at 4:22 am

      Jennifer, yes it is beautiful…somedays I have to squint to see it, but its there…thanks for your comment.

  21. L.L. Barkat on January 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    “a bracelet of blue glass beads”

    I want a poem just about these 🙂

    loved the letter!

  22. Kelly Sauer on January 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    “God this life is beautiful. Should she find a bracelet of blue glass beads in a little shop in the village – buy it.”

    Oh so compelling. Love this, John!

  23. Ann Voskamp on January 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    “just keep stubbornly writing what you see when you look.”


    Thank you, friend.

    All’s grace,

    • thebeautifuldue on January 19, 2012 at 4:25 am

      Great to hear from you, Ann…I hope you are well.

  24. Sandra Heska King on January 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Those lines about time melting like butter and the gelding of grief? They just puddled me. It’s been one of those days anyway.

    And then there’s this: “We have an affinity for words, you and I, and these will prove both solace and grit. Take and eat them.” Might I add “share them?”

    Going to find some tissue now.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 19, 2012 at 4:27 am

      Sandra, some days are puddly, aren’t they? Thanks very much for taking the time to write…

  25. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson) on January 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I’m so glad Ann featured this over at The High Calling. I think this is the first I’ve visited over here. I’m so glad I wandered over. I’m not yet ninety, but have lived long enough to recognize truth in your words. Some of those trips with my husband, the little trinkets we bought–touchstones of our time together–they’re so worth it. Thank you for this. Blessings.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 19, 2012 at 4:29 am

      Hello, Nancy…I’m glad you wondered/wandered over here too.
      Grace, always grace,

  26. highheartedly on January 19, 2012 at 4:57 am

    I too like the bracelet. I’m about to have a jewelry party next Friday! (Like a tupperware party, you invite friends over to see and buy)
    Love the whole concept, and want to write a letter to myself too. Thank you for this. I came over from High Calling.

  27. Kris on January 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    This was so rich. In every way. Thank you, So thankful to have read this, as I could definitnly use the perspective… God bless you.

  28. Glynn on January 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    The age of cranky elegance — I’m right on the cusp of that, and I can say that’s one of the best descriptions I’ve heard.

    This is all so true.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Nice to hear from you, Glynn…yes – cranky elegance – what a phrase!

  29. Lisa Bergren on January 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    *Love* That is all.

  30. Tony on January 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    The last thing my wife saw in a shop and “had to have” was acuddly toy penguin chick which she said was “cute.” I bought it for her. My 90 year old self knows it was worth it, just as my 45 year old self knows that marrying her was the second best decision of my life. The best? Accepting Christ as Saviour, of course!

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  33. rudy on October 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  34. Wendi on February 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    This reminds me of the POWER in our words… you spoke beauty and blessings to yourself through the years. Just beautiful!

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