We never think that we’ll age . . . well come on now be honest. As we hit our forties and fifties we are still (given good genes and good luck) very active and productive. But we do begin to say things like . . .oh, I must be getting old . . . ha, ha, ha . . . but actually it’s the furthest thing from our minds. Let’s face it, in your fifties you are still most likely working, planning holidays and making decisions about what to do next.
Then something else happens. You turn sixty. Well, that’s okay, I can hear you say, nothing wrong with being sixty. Right you are. But there is, I believe a distinct difference in turning sixty to that of turning fifty. Physically, as to be expected our bodies are not necessarily as good as they were ten years ago. Of course there will always be some people in their sixties that dispute this, that’s a good thing I say, let them stay positive . . . If believing that you are forever young and that your body doesn’t age is a helpful way to stay vital, then that’s fine . . .
But for most of us, if we are tuned in to our lives (and bodies) will find that there are differences to contend with. Small (sometimes large) health problems raise their ugly heads, annoying matters like joint problems, heart disorders and a range of other ailments that come with the territory. For some fortunate folk they never experience these problems along the way. Power to them I say, but most of us will have to humble ourselves and work through particular life advancement difficulties at some stage, even if it’s temporary. And it’s not always physical health issues, it can be emotional and financial changes that can arrive on our doorstep at any time.
Now, whilst being sixty is not a worry for most of us, sometimes being seventy can come with a few challenges. Okay, I can hear the super seventy somethings saying, never felt better, what are you talking about? Well, I’m talking on behalf of a lot of folk who are not so chirpy and have to manage many difficulties in their life. It may not always their own health, it may be a spouse. There are many challenges to navigate as well as fantastic opportunities to enjoy with being older.
A few weeks back, a close relative who is in his very early seventies had a very serious scrape with a life-threatening health trauma. Surgery was successful and his return to health is excellent. However, whilst talking to him recently he relayed several stories about lifelong friends his same age. Three friends had all experienced difficult health issues. One friend actually died. My relative, pleased to be doing so well himself since his surgery, nodded his head as he spoke. He cheerily finished the conversation with. ‘And you know what’s so amazing? Suddenly we are old!’
One of the most wonderful things (in my view ) about older age is the wisdom of reflection, it’s a very powerful and wonderful experience. To be able to think about life in various ways, to feel that your opinion is based on some valid experience, to not only reflect the past but to be curious regarding the future, to have time to think clearly and not have to be constantly on the go is indeed a privilege only available in older age, I suspect.
Self reflection is available to all but in older age it becomes very important. Being able to spend time alone. Rejoicing in quiet activity and quiet time, taking joy in and valuing skills that are well honed without looking for distractions or things new things to do. I know people who fill in every spare hour of the day with activities and seem unable to tolerate time alone. I often wonder what they are running from. Old age maybe. . .?