Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sixty is NOT the New Fifty

me in 1956
Today I turn sixty. News media have bandied about that sixty is the new fifty (or forty or even thirty, in some extremely optimistic articles)! I think they have it all wrong. There are some things I could do in my younger years that don't work out so well for me now. For the most part, they are insignificant: trying to stay awake after two alcoholic beverages (or after 10:30, with or without alcohol), stepping off a curb incorrectly and feeling it in my back the next day, or being able to sleep all the way through the night. On the other hand, I didn't have certain life experiences back then - the ones that enable me today to deal with difficult people and tough situations, and help me treasure all the good things that have come my way. I have enjoyed each decade of my life so far - some more than others - and can truly say I wouldn't want to go back to my thirties or forties even if it was possible to do so. I love my life right now, and am more than grateful for the man who has shared it with me for the past thirty-seven plus years.

Sixty is just a number. Do I think it is a different sixty than my mother or grandmothers experienced? Of course. In many ways my life is much easier than it ever was for my ancestors. Modern conveniences have made it so that much less time is spent on mundane chores like laundry, cooking and cleaning. Changes in transportation and technology make it possible to connect much more easily and quickly with our family and friends. I certainly have more leisure time than my grandmothers ever had.

registering students to vote 1974
Why do we make so much out of certain birthdays? Thirteen seemed magical to me because I was finally a teenager. At sixteen I could drive a car, though in our one-car family that didn't happen very often. It was also when I got my first job (outside of baby-sitting for $.50 an hour) as a waitress at the long-forgotten Kings Food Host. Receiving the minimum wage of $1.60 an hour seemed huge at the time. When I turned eighteen I registered to vote, and due to my early birthday became a registrar so that I could sign up my fellow senior class members at the high school. I could also legally drink because that was the law in Iowa at the time. I guess that took away some of the excitement of turning twenty-one.

But what about the birthdays after the much touted "21"? They all seemed to pass in a blur. College graduation, marriage, moves, graduate school, jobs, raising children and starting new businesses mark the passage of time. Like pages from those little flip books we used to make as kids, images fly through my mind. From a newly-made family of two who became a family of four, we returned to a family of two when our children followed in our footsteps, going to college and then taking jobs far from home. Life happens.

As I continue to travel down life's highway at my new speed limit of 60, here are my takeaways from the first 59 years of living:
  • You have to love yourself before you can truly love others.
  • Life can be difficult, but if it was easy we would never appreciate the good things that come along.
  • Most things we worry about never come to fruition.
  • Take the dream trip. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
  • Ditch the negative people. They will only bring you down. You can rarely raise them up.
  • Try new things. They keep your brain sharp and expose you to new people.
  • Most importantly, find (and keep) your sense of humor.
Age is an attitude, not a number that defines us. Sixty is just sixty - and that is fine with me.

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

Happy 60th! This is one of your best posts ever!! Really enjoyed it, and love that photo of you in 1956!