Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Letter to My 80 Year Old Self

Dear 80-year-old Shawna Mattinson,

Hey you, it’s been awhile. You’ve made it this far. It looks like you’ve done a lot of stuff in your life that you may have thought wouldn’t happen decades ago. Looking back, I’m sure you would not change a thing because look at what you’ve achieved.

Right now, at 34 years of age, I am recovering from a stroke that has hindered my progress and dreams of walking on my own one day. It happened out of nowhere and, just like that, I had doctors telling me what I could and could not do. Lately I have felt like there have been constant roadblocks to my dreams and goals, a feeling that destroys me because of how independent and determined I am (which you know of course).  Will I walk again? Are the doctors wrong about my possibility of walking, as they have been in the past? Are you walking right now, and I just can’t see beyond this moment?

I hope that you are able to walk right now, although you are super old. Also, I hope that you’ve done all the things that I am hoping to accomplish right now (and many more things that I can’t predict, knowing you). I wonder if you’ve written other books beyond the two that I’ve written (and am writing) now, and if you will continue writing until you’ve passed. Also, have you continued your work on that project with that guy and become one of the main voices on his website for others with disabilities? Has your constant blogging and website work that you worked so hard on in your twenties and thirties opened more doors for you? I hope that it has, because right now it seems like I’ve started a million small projects and I hope they amount to the bigger picture one day (or I’ll throw my computer out my window!). What about the accessibility project? Did your videos of crashing into inaccessible buildings lead to people making changes with the city? What other projects have you come up with over the years, and did your focus change as you entered your fourties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and now (freaking eighties!?).

Oh yes, and what about your dream of travelling the world? At 34 years old, I have currently been around Canada (British Columbia, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., New Brunswick), Mexico, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Alaska. I went on a cruise from New Zealand (Where I jumped off the Sky Tower) all the way back to Vancouver. Some of the spots I stopped at on the way were Wellington, Sydney, Port Vila, and Pago Pago.  Knowing that you’re over forty years ahead of me, I know you’ve seen so much more and I can’t wait to experience all the places I did not know I would be. How was the cruise that you went on to the Caribbean when you were 35 years old? I can’t wait. Did you see all of Europe (especially Paris, Rome?). Did you say hi to your friend in Denmark like you wanted to?

How is your family? What are your nieces and nephews up to now? Have they grown into the people you imagined they’d be? How are your sisters? Are your sisters looking out for you now that your parents are gone? Is that what they wanted? Do you guys have fun being old together? Do you live together in a nursing home? At 80 you’re no longer required to follow societal rules and norms. I hope you take advantage of getting to say and do whatever the heck you want without consequence. Do you feel worn out? Have you fulfilled all the dreams you discovered along the way? I hope so. You and I both know that the end must be near now. I hope you’re almost falling apart from all the adventures you’ve had. It has been one heck of a ride, I know!

I know you have a lot of friends in your life, but I hope you have someone to share your hopes and dreams with too. In fact, I hope all your adventures have had your closest friends by your side.

Well 80 year old self, I guess I’m left with more questions for you than anything. I’m so curious about the life that lies before me. I hope you know that you are an inspiration to me. I may not meet you in this life but I am reaching for you, and I won’t give up. I hope that you are reaching for me too, maybe we will meet in the middle. Maybe you are already watching over me like my grandma. I will do my best with every bit of goodness I’ve been given to make a difference in this world. I will not leave here before I’ve made my mark and lived out my purpose. There is so much to do, don’t let me do it all on my own.

I love you,

Shawna Mattinson