Tuesday, July 28, 2009

59 no more

Yesterday I joined a new club. It is the club of 60's. It should feel pretty comfortable since the 60's WAS my era. I had my first date in the 60's, graduated high school, got married..... so 60 does have a familiar ring to it. I'm trying now to embrace this new age with complete gusto.

What's so great about being a kid anyway? What's so exciting about it? In a word, it’s potential. Kids see few limits to their potential. She wants to be an astronaut, or a nurse, or a lawyer, and on and on. She changes her mind every few days or weeks when she discovers something new. It's amusing, but it's exciting to see such enthusiasm and willingness to try something new.

What so bad about being old? What's so depressing about it? In a word, it’s limitations. He's too old; he can't do that any more. He used to be able to, but no more. There's no real future in trying to start a new career at his age. He doesn't have the time. He's "paid his dues" and he didn't get what he expected. He doesn't like it, but it's his lot in life. He gets tired quickly, doesn't have the energy he used to have, but he "can't expect it" at his age. It may seem logical, but it's depressing to hear such negativism.

If middle age is the period between these two states, then middle age must be that point in your life when you shift from seeing the future in terms of your potential and begin to see it in terms of your limitations. It's a shift that's so slow, so incremental, that we don't even notice it on a day-to-day basis. But we start at one end and end up at the other. It doesn't happen overnight.

Looked at with any objectivity, it doesn't make sense. Once we're in our 40's, or 50's, or 60's, we ought to think that we finally have enough experience and enough freedom to really begin to grow, not begin to decline. I know people who are 85 or older, but who still look forward to tomorrow. Unfortunately, I know people 15 or younger who've already given up. But they're rare, most of us slide down the hill from youth to old age, instead of climbing the hill. Sure, it's a matter of perspective and "all we have to do" is change our perspective. But we make it very hard on ourselves when we associate a perspective with a specific age group and treat it as inevitable because aging is inevitable. As the old saying goes, we dig our own grave. But,we don't have to.

1 comment:

Arkansas Patti said...

Oops, I missed your big day. Computer problems my only excuse.
Hope you had a wonderful Birthday.
If it makes you feel any better, when you reach 70---60 becomes the good ole days.
Actually there is nothing you can't do except maybe lift a piano but since I couldn't do that at 20 I don't feel the loss.
Enjoy this decade and let your experience shine. We have earned the respect.
Hope you had a great day and keep writing. Love your posts.