A Wise Woman Once Said… by
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Dear One,

If it’s not good for you, use moderation; if it is, run with it.

The dilemma in writing you this letter is that I’d really like to tell you something that I now know which would pretty much change who you are, or more accurately who you think you are, but that would rob you of the serpentine albeit ultimately satisfying and self-affirming odyssey of discovering it on your own. So instead, I’ll just offer what may seem like some pithy words of wisdom but in actuality will lead you to the same outcome, minus the big surprise. 

Give some thought to who or what you want to be when you’re an old lady, and work backwards from there. If you want to be:

…happy, then give more than you take. Even when you feel like you don’t have a lot to give.

…comfortable in your own skin, then don’t conform. Even though you really, really crave approval.

…secure, then know yourself, and accept yourself. And if someone tells you that no one else will love you if you don’t love yourself, believe them. Love yourself.

…cherished and loved, then cherish and love.

…healthy, then love your body.

…creative, then make something every chance you get, whether or not anyone else likes it or you get paid for it.

…confident, then pay attention to what turns you on. If it’s not good for you, use moderation; if it is, run with it.

…a master of something, then commit to something. Something you’re passionate about.

…a financial success, then go to college, and finish college. Now you’re qualified to do at least one thing well, which you may very well never use.

…a visionary, then imagine. Imagine!

…an old lady with hair down to there for your grandchildren to braid, then stop cutting your hair at some point.

As you’ve probably heard, hindsight is 20/20, so take it from me. Or not. Either way, I love you.

XO,

Me

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this, Barb. Your first paragraph is profound. The journey really matters. So clever how you write this from the perspective of being an old lady who can look back on her life with satisfaction. Your values are right on!

  2. Brava Bebe, but it seems you HAVE taken much of your older, wiser advice!

    And for an old lady you still look pretty good!

  3. Marian says:

    I love this, Barb. You captured the complexity of the journey and looking back, knowing what you know now and what you were questioning then. Very profound and moving!

  4. Powerful words, I had to go through them slowly, as each sentence contained an abundance of guidance.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Barb, I love the way that you have organized this, so that the advice is dependent on the choices that the recipient (i.e., the younger you) decides herself are important. Which is really so much wiser than a monolithic “Here is what you should do” approach.

    But, beyond that, I so appreciate both the variety of choices you offer and the wisdom of the respective pieces of advice. And I also realize that these choices are not at all mutually exclusive — at most, priorities — and yet you generously do not preach “You can have it all.”

    And a great final paragraph. Indeed, it reminds me of a funny line I heard on New Year’s Day: “At last, we can, literally, speak of ‘2020 hindsight.'”

  6. Suzy says:

    This is wonderful, Barb. Coming to the comments so late, I can only echo what everyone else has said.

  7. Barbara, so many lines here that I want to write on the wall! But first, I want to cheer for your profoundly complex, lyrical, and successful run-on opening line! And I feel richer for being the recipient of the careful thought and expression you put into your advice. Thanks!

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    Lovely and wise. Though wisdom wasn’t one of the choices, and one I still seek. So much good advice here–If only it could be heard by those younger. I wonder if we actually received this sort of advice when we were younger and didn’t hear or just rejected it? Seems like the advice “plastics” (the Graduate) was more what I recall.

    • I don’t think many of us heard let alone acted on advice from older people, wise or otherwise. For the most part, we were headstrong and sure we knew what we were doing. The older I get, the more I can say “I don’t know” and seek wisdom from those that do.

  9. Dave Ventre says:

    Nice work. Not dissimilar to the approach that I took, and what I’d say to Little Me.

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