16 August 2011

My life 20 years from now, a Blog Off post

Every two weeks, the blogosphere comes alive with something called a Blog Off. A Blog Off is an event where bloggers of every stripe weigh in on the same topic on the same day. The topic for this round of the Blog Off is "What will your life look like 20 years from now?"


Portrait of an Old Man (Johann Harms); Egon Schiele, 1916;  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; New York

In 20 years I'll be 66 years old. That sounds old, but then again, 20 years ago I was 26 and 46 sounded positively ancient. But at 46 I can say that 46 doesn't really feel very old. So I'm sure the 66 year old version of me won't think he's old.

But the last 20 years ago have taught me a thing or two and I expect that the next 20 will teach me even more. One of the important things I've learned is to avoid making predictions about a future I can't control. Had I been asked this question at 26, the prediction I would have made at the time would have born zero resemblance to what my life actually looks like today. I can't tell you what a great thing it was to have been so wrong about so much.

One of the best gifts I've received as I've grown older is patience. When I was a lot younger I was devoid of it entirely and I wasted countless opportunities in my rush to have the future arrive. A future I had all mapped out of course. But some time in the last 20 years I learned the folly of getting to hung up on specific plans, specific results and specific futures. I've learned that if I can instead plan for intangibles like "I want to be happy," I end up in a better place when it's all said and done. More important than that, I can then concentrate and enjoy every moment of the constantly inventing itself present.

If I get too attached to the end game, I can't alter my plans and I can't jump on the new opportunities that show up so consistently. If I can fully commit myself to now, tomorrow takes care of itself. That sounds counterintuitive, but it works.

So what will my life look like in 20 years? I wouldn't hazard a guess but I have a feeling it'll look somewhat like my life does today. I will be engaged in something productive that pays the bills and makes me feel fulfilled. I'll have a lot of contact with the people I love. I'll continue to learn and grow. I'll still delight in the actions and activities of my nieces and nephews as they strike out on their own and build lives for themselves. I'll have traveled to a bunch of new places and will have collected a whole lot more stories. I'll still be writing in some capacity. I'll be happy.

That's it. Me in 20 years. It'll be interesting to see what my life looks like then but not nearly as interesting as the path I'll take to get there. What about you?


As the day goes on, the rest of the participants in today's Blog Off will appear miraculously at the end of this post. Keep checking back and check out everybody's posts. You can follow along in Twitter as well, just look for the hashtag #LetsBlogOff. If you'd like more information about about the Blog Off or if you'd like to see the results of previous Blog Offs, you can find the main website here.


  1. Patience really is the big thing you learn.. the smart ones anyway. I have some younger friends and in the odd moments that turn to deeper life discussions, the skill of patience is the thing I tell them to work on most. I suspect many blow me off, but maybe in 20 years, they'll remember those brief conversations as well.. "That old dog wasn't so crazy after all," they will think. "Should've listened sooner."

  2. Patience is a designers trait (not exclusively mind you). We talk in our office to the younger designers "don't fall in love with your own design" your sort of end game. Most of the time, the most interesting and rewarding aspects of life come from unplanned and unavoidable "opportunities" that present themselves to your chagrin.

  3. I wasn't blessed with my Mother's eternal patience but as opportunities come by one needs to be flexible enough to take advantage of them. Sometimes they pan out sometimes they don't so I guess I have a bit of patience- I just keep at it.

  4. Ah, to be 46 again. Instead of 66, which I am now, and which you will be in, um, twenty years! The one thing that does change, and change significantly, is your body. My health, thank god, is good and always has been. I have never been hospitalized for anything or even had any kind of a serious ailment. Colds knock me for a loop as I get older (hell, maybe they’re really bronchitis!), but that’s about all. But I do get a lot of aches and pains and don’t have the physical strength I once had, so you get to look forward to that part of things, Paul.

    But the one value we share will serve you well: we are both endlessly fascinated and involved with life. I went away from my writing and am now back to it, and twenty years from now, like you, I expect to still be doing it… if I’m actually here still doing! But as long as you’re learning, you’re growing. And as long as you’re interested, you’re ALIVE!

  5. Thanks for all the comments today gang, this one was kind of hard to write. I guess that's a good thing.

  6. I envision a very large collection of cardigans in your wardrobe in 20 years...


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