A Letter to My 100-Year-Old Self
About a month ago, I participated in Pink Pangea’s Fearless Living Workshop. I loved it so much that I went, the following week, to their Soul Writing Workshop. One of the exercises was to write a letter from our 90-year-old selves. I ended up posting the letter I wrote on my blog. Here’s what I wrote:
Dear 29-year-old Emily.
It’s you – 61 years into the future! It sounds like a lot, but it will go by so fast. So, so many things will happen but it will speed by. Other times, it will feel as though it’s taking a long time. You still live in Tel Aviv. You are one of those old Tel Aviv ladies, sitting on a bench, remembering all of the times you walked past this spot.
Remember how many years you spent wondering if you had made the “right” choice?
When you first arrived and knew NOTHING. After a few years with some more friends and some more confidence. Holding hands with Ofir. Fighting with Ofir. On the phone with your mom. Pregnant and eating a Popsicle. Jogging. With your babies. With Ofir and your kids. With Tamar, talking about your marriages. With out-of-town visitors, showing them Tel Aviv. You’ve lived in this city for many years, and seen many protests, lived through a few wars, celebrated hundreds of holidays. And now you are reflecting on all of it.
Thinking how different everything would have been if you had stayed in Toronto. But it doesn’t matter anymore. This was meant to be your life. Doesn’t it feel good to know that? Remember how many years you spent wondering if you had made the “right” choice? You have always listened to yourself. Keep listening – for the next 61 years, listen to yourself and do what she tells you.
Tel Aviv, Israel
The next day, I woke up to an email from my grandmother, in which she had written a letter from her 100-year-old self. Here is her letter:
This cannot be short. It took me 100 years to get here. So much has happened in these many years, but I’ll begin when I was about 13. I was shy, not many friends, as I remember, a good girl. A wonderful thing happened. My wonderful Daddy took me on my first ever plane to Detroit to visit family. I think that was the moment when the thrill of flying, soaring above the clouds, captured my imagination and heart forever.
The same year, I was sent to camp for the first time. Against my wishes. I begged not to go, so afraid of not having friends, or not being accepted, not knowing what to expect. But there I was, thrust into a situation that would change the child I was forever. My mom said I blossomed. They liked me, I was one of them. I didn’t want that summer to end. But end it did. I made lasting friendships, which I have until now. That is, with the ones still walking this earth. I also met my “b’shairt” that summer. Of course, I didn’t know it then but he says he did.
Then I became restless. I wasn’t as fulfilled as I thought I was, so I started searching.
Skip to 18, chai. Engaged, left school to prepare for a new life. Married a month after turning 19! Was I ready? Doubtful, but there I was. Having my first baby a month after I turned 20. I loved being a mother so I continued having them – 3 in 5 years. The first years were, as I remember them, happy, fulfilling, and difficult a lot of the time. But because my Mom and Dad were also very young, they helped a lot.
Then I became restless. I wasn’t as fulfilled as I thought I was, so I started searching. Courses in childcare, sculpture, painting, volunteer work at Mount Sinai, president of my Hadassah chapter… still searching. Playing golf obsessively. And then I started the sportswear department at Ira Berg (our family’s store)! I was successful! My life changed. It didn’t matter anymore that I didn’t have a university education. I travelled the world and was accepted as an equal. I loved my life. I had achieved something.
We understand that probably we will outlive our parents and I did. But my younger brother, Jerry, died before my Mom. Even writing about him now, these many years later, my heart is so heavy. The day Jerry was murdered in cold blood changed me forever. My heart carries a heaviness that is there and doesn’t leave me. It’s as though a part of me has been cut away. I have never healed.
Now, in my very old age, not many friends left, it’s lonely. My head is still clear. I’m a little slower and I tend to live in the past. But I have my wonderful family and that’s my life, my reason for hanging on. I had a good life, not perfect, but nearly. All I ask is that my family be together and remember me with love.