I did an exercise on Calm, the meditation and sleep app (LOVE & highly recommend), in which I was asked to imagine myself ten years from now, happy. Then think about what it is that’s making me feel happy. Whoa. Mind-blowing.
You wouldn’t think it would be, would you? Well, I’ve done this type of thing many times before, with Julia Cameron and others, when I was younger. Back then, I imagined all sorts of things in my future. I had big ambitions, including: Published Writer at Chronicle Books (with an agent), Successful Artist, Love of My Life Found, Nice Big House (no repairs waiting to be done), Plenty of Money for travel or whatever, and when I was really on a roll, Apartment Overlooking Central Park (in addition to the house). As I say, I was younger and more ambitious.
This time I had an immediate vision of myself ten years from now, smiling, decidedly wrinkly, with wispy grey hair pulled back, standing in front of a painting in progress in my messy studio right here in this same house where I live now and that I really do love, even with its many problems, just plain happy. A simple life, my house paid off, less to do, less to worry about, a little creaky but obviously healthy, happily working on a painting. No big ambition or plan. It was a quiet little smile of contentment that I had. And I did not need a moment of reflection or thought to have that vision arrive in my mind’s eye. It just popped up, easy as pie. It was wonderful!
I’m so shocked at how different this exercise turned out from when I was younger. I had so many ambitions for myself! I used to go off to art shows thinking, “Anything can happen!” Maybe at this show I’d be discovered! By whom? I don’t know. I guess an agent. I wanted to be able to use the phrase, “my publisher.” That was big. When I went to the NY Stationery Show in 2009, I honestly hoped that I might a) be signed by Chronicle Books b) find the love of my life and c) end up with that apartment overlooking Central Park, where I’d stay part of the year visiting my sons and being a famous New York writer/artist.
Age really does make a remarkable difference. I love the difference, in this case. I like this version of Ten Years From Now very much. Oh, I still very occasionally think of maybe having these letters find their way to a publishing house–but that’s about it. Mostly I’m just happy that I get to write them and you are willing to read them and some of you write me back. All wonderful. Contentment is a pretty great thing.
Again, I know I’m lucky and so far, fingers crossed, aging well, though I know anything can happen. Not necessarily the “Anything can happen!” of going off to shows, either. But so far, very lucky.
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ― Robert Frost
“Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant compared to the Gestalt of the whole person I have become in this past year.”― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
“At 11, I could say ‘I am sodium’ (Element 11), and now at 79, I am gold.”― Oliver Sacks
“But if we are truly happy inside, then age brings with it a maturity, a depth, and a power that only magnifies our radiance.”― David Deida, Intimate Communion
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”