I want to grow old without facelifts…
I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I’ve made.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young,
but then you’d never complete your life, would you?
You’d never wholly know you.
T-minus four days and counting… In less than a hundred hours I will officially be sixty years old. It’s interesting that internally I feel about half that age, but am reminded in the mirror that in reality is I am entering the outer boundaries of old age.
For at least fifteen years I have tried to sneak up on birthdays. Within three or four months of the anniversary of my birth I’d answer the question “how old are you?” with the age I was about to be, not what I presently was. In some off-beat way that helped me acclimate to being another year older. Just realizing this year I did not do that the previous practice fells silly to me. Yeah for me! I’m finally growing up and accepting of the present chapter of life just ahead.
Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends did a survey in 2009 of close to three thousand people and asked different demographic groups “What age does the average person become old?” In their data respondents from 18-29 years of age said 60 was old. Gulp! No wonder so many people in that age group refer to me as “Sir”. The perception of ‘old’ changes with age: 30-49 year-olds see 69 as old; 50-64 year-old folks see 72 as old while 65+ thought 74 was old. Whew! That means to anyone thirty or older I won’t be ‘old’ for at least another ten years!
Back to being called “Sir” by younger people; I have to admit it really bothered me when it began happening with greater and greater frequency about ten years. I thought “Oh, no. He/she thinks I’m an old fart”. I have grown up some though, and now take the reference as respect. Once past the shock of being a “Sir” and becoming accustomed to it, I accepted that people were simply being respectful. None of us gets too much respect at any age.
Another finding in the Pew Research Center survey was the older people get, the younger they feel–relatively speaking. Among 18 to 29 year-olds, about half say they feel their age, while about quarter say they feel older than their age and another quarter say they feel younger. By contrast, among adults 65 and older, fully 60% say they feel younger than their age, compared with 32% who say they feel exactly their age and just 3% who say they feel older than their age.
And one of the best parts for me in the Pew survey was nearly half (45%) of adults ages 75 and older say their life has turned out better than they expected, while just 5% say it has turned out worse (the remainder say things have turned out the way they expected or have no opinion). All other age groups also tilt positive, but considerably less so, when asked to assess their lives so far against their own expectations. I agree completely. My life so far has turned out to be far more interesting, rewarding and fulfilling that I could have ever imagined when younger.
It seems I have arrived at the place I have long needed to be. About to finish my 6th decade on Earth by retiring from professional life and moving into a phase filled with a list of “always wanted to-dos”, I am genuinely excited at the prospect of experiences to come; exhilarated actually!
Everything is not exactly what I hoped for or dreamed of, but my life is rich and rewarding in a myriad of ways. It humbles me when I let the life possibilities ahead take shape in my thoughts. Finally, I have arrived at where I have been headed all my life. I am grateful to be here.
Wrinkles should merely indicate
where the smiles have been.