Thoughts On Turning 66
66! Yikes! Isn’t that when you’re OLD?
I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see an old person, so maybe it’s a myth. I definitely didn’t see a young person though.
I had lunch with my daughter and she asked me if I feel 66. I said, “yes and no”. The “yes’ part is that life experience teaches us quite a lot. I’m very happy about that. I have more confidence as a 66 year old human being than I ever could have had as a young person. There can be no substitute for decades of dealing with and solving problems, of survival through hard things, of seeing our own progress in striving to get better at something. When we can make it through all that, we are “seasoned”. I rather like being seasoned. It certainly feels a lot better than being anxious, fearful that we won’t make it, unsure of our skills, or pressured to climb whatever ladder is before us. I’ll take seasoned any day.
The “no” part is that my image of 66 from the distortion of youth’s prism was that feeling 66 would be about feeling old. About slowing down or being less interested in having fun and adventure. We know that’s not true! , I’m happy to report that I’m having more fun than ever at this point. I work because I want to work, doing things I feel satisfied doing. I am using all those years of experience in nursing and in practicing law combined in an effort to be useful to people whose elders and parents are failing in their health. Their stories aren’t fun, but I like being able to help them solve their problems.
I am one of the lucky ones in excellent health at 66 and I am grateful every day for this. One thing a nurse can learn from working with thousands of patients and clients is to appreciate all we have in the body and mind that works. One spends a lot of days facing folks with body parts or minds that don’t work. You get perspective that way. A friend or classmate dies suddenly. You get perspective that way, too.
If I can take a walk on a beautiful day, it’s a gift. Every body part works fine. And going beyond a casual walk, I can jog, bike and run, sometimes all in the same event (triathlon). Never mind that in my county’s triathlon three months ago I was the oldest woman registered to complete the event. I can just celebrate being able to do it at all. And I do celebrate. With carrot cake.
I am among the millions of Boomers who have recently reached this milestone or who will do so soon. We are glad and sad about some things. We are already experiencing the loss of dear friends. It sobers us.
I also think it’s a time to celebrate a lot of things. I think about the political power we have as a group. I think about how we have changed society and will continue to do so, just because there are so many of us. I think about how we, as a generation are changing the concept of aging. I love it.
So, if you, too are a Boomer, celebrate with me. Raise a glass to a different and evolving idea of aging. Toast to the beauty of experience and being wiser than we were at 20. Find your joy in showing the younger generation that we know how to live these years in a meaningful way. We already changed the world when we were young. Now we can change it again as we get into the next phase of our seasoned lives. We can share life’s lessons with others. We can set an example of being responsible. We understand that we must savor the moment. We can have a wonderful time appreciating what we are and all we have. Let the beauty of this time of life shine on.
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