What Would the 80-Year-Old Version of Me Say?
And why I’m only concerned with her judgment. No one else’s.
I have a friend, who when I’m mulling over a decision, asks me the same question, “What would 80-year-old Vanessa tell you to do?” It is more than mildly annoying. It also gets me every damn time.
The general idea is to picture yourself as the 80-year-old version of you. The one who tells stories from a rocking chair, on a porch somewhere, to whoever the hell will stand still long enough to hear about “that one time…”
This question is the challenge to determine what “that one time” will be. It’s the crossroads of grab-life-by-the-balls or not.
I had my weekend all planned out. Earlier in the week, I had created a list of everything that I needed to focus on: returning a drill to Home Depot, getting my dog’s nails trimmed, decluttering my entire house. I even took Friday off to get things done.
Yes, you read that correctly. I took a vacation day to clean out my hall closet. Don’t look at me like that. I can feel that look.
After getting a good amount done on Friday, I made a decision that made absolutely no sense at all. None whatsoever.
I got in my car and drove five hours to California to visit this same friend, driven by not wanting to disappoint the 80-year-old version of me. She has a presence, that one.
My friend and I had been chatting about our plans for the weekend and he very cavalierly mentioned for me to get in the car and come out there. Like it was nothing. Just go. I could just throw crap in my car and drive off. Sure. Right. I don’t think so.
Hold on. Wait. 80-year-old me had the floor. “It’s not crazy. It’s living.”
I mulled it over for about five minutes while I took a shower I needed regardless of how my day was going to end.
There was not one damn reason for me not to go. I didn’t have my daughter. Nothing was going to burn down. There was nothing that was so pressing that it warranted me staying right where I was.
Home Depot would be there on Monday and so would Petsmart. As a matter of fact, my dog would be much happier going on a long car ride and spending some time with my friend and his dog. My hall closet? It took me 15 minutes after I got back.
When you are making decisions on what to do with your life, they should never be ruled by your hall closet. That’s not living. That’s nonsense.
Truth be told, I would have wasted much of the weekend with mindless activity. I know me. I wouldn’t have felt rested. I wouldn’t have felt better about the world.
Getting to see my friend, drinking wine at a rooftop bar overlooking the ocean, smelling the air after a morning rainfall. That feeds my soul. That makes me feel alive. That puts my mind at ease. The rest is noise.
If my closet never got cleaned out, what’s it to anyone? Is that going to impact my life? Is there a line of people waiting outside my home to come in and judge me on my closet space. No.
Even if there were, I don’t care what they think. The only person whose opinion of me matters is 80-year-old me because when I’m old and gray, she’s the one I have to live with.
I have to say that, when I think about the 80-year-old me, I love her. She’s tough. She’s ballsy. She loves harder and deeper than anyone you know. Her grandkids think she was a hell-raiser. And they’re right.
How many stories about “that one time” do I want to have? More than I would have time to tell about in my old age.
Our lives are the culmination of a series of decisions, big and small. On my drive home on Sunday, I had to smile a little. I think that when I’m 80, I’ll look back on that fly-by-the-seat-of-pants weekend and tell myself, “You did good, kid. You did good.”