Last week Cathy started talking about what is great about being 65 — think she was trying to make me feel better turning the big 65. But the more I was thinking about what I liked about 65, the happier I got.
1.) Many of the “big calls” (go/stay/choose/reject) have been made and when new choices come up as they inevitably do, I feel I can handle them with serenity and acceptance. Most importantly, I now know what is best for me. Making major life choices as a young woman was daunting. I knew that choices of faith, values, lifestyle, education, mates, commitments, career, and health would have a great impact on my life — essentially define it. But my trust in myself was weak. Often I second-guessed myself and RE second-guessed myself, unsure if I was worth trusting. It took a long time, much introspection, and ultimately recovery from insecurities to feel confident that my choices were and are the right ones for me. 2.) I am no longer horrified, shocked and incredulous about bad things happening. There are some surprises, but they are happy, mysterious or silly. It seems like anything “bad”, terrifying, or threatening that could have happened has and we know about it. I am not happy but resigned to evil in the world and won’t let any evil person or event prevent me, and those I love, from moving forward and inward toward peace. 3.) Our daughter survived 9/11. My wonderful brother in law died in 2003. I have been assaulted, fired, dumped, lost family and friends, been in accidents, had some health scares, gotten lost, trusted bad people, worked for some bad bosses, chosen poor investments and some questionable friends/partners. I have been alone for long periods of time, hung in for ages to accomplish things I have really wanted and seen people I love terribly hurt (which to me has been the worst). Believing “This too shall pass” is the best advice ever.
4.) There is a constant wonderful stream of scientific and technical discoveries, ideas, and insights into life, eternity and all its mystery that is endlessly fascinating. AND, I get to choose whether or not to “get on board” or work to adjust. In earlier decades, external changes had to be seriously considered and dealt with – new technology? Had to learn it. Changes in business approaches or new family members? Had to get on board. A wonderful new restaurant or style? Well it seemed important to at least try it. Now, what interests me I get engaged with, otherwise I can happily sit on the sidelines because with very few exceptions my engagement is unimportant if not irrelevant. 5.) My friends and family — especially those my age or older have more time for me – and I, for them. I can talk to a friend midday, shop leisurely for my grandnieces or daughters, write a longer note or letter, or just think about people and life at a deeper level. Work is not the central driver of my life nor in many people’s lives I know. Everyone in my life still works at things (a criteria for being in my life – you have to DO something – even if that is being Zen). Some for needed or ‘luxury” money, some not. But the old hardcore drive and focus on work, career, making this or that financial goal is nearly gone — and with it an openness and relaxed pace more often than not makes life much more peaceful and calm. 6.) I am not delighted about thoughts of inevitably dying mainly because I want to have drinks with my granddaughters when they are 40 something and that isn’t likely meant to be. The other biggies – perhaps having to live without Bill, or getting really old and frail and/or losing my mind have stopped being fears. Maybe meditation, prayer or reading 1,000,000 books and thinking about it has just calmed me down. While I am not ready or willing to share all my plans, let me just say I am at reasonable levels of peace and plan to continue to work on this part of my life — mainly, by living in the present moment. That just keeps coming up doesn’t it? If you have no idea what I am talking about google “being present”.
7.) While millenials are a bigger cohort that is reshaping the world in their own image – as we did – I enjoy sharing aging with boomer stars, celebrities, my friends and other boomers I don’t know but who write, blog, or otherwise contribute — a motley and pretty funny cohort. I can see other boomers, even the stars we thought never would, are aging, or struggling with one or another similar issue, or reinventing themselves again in some way professionally or personally. There are lots of models – good and bad. We never have to feel alone on any issue — some boomer out there is already dealing with it and ready to share. Or some boomer is doing it so badly we can easily see what bad or stupid choices to avoid.
I like myself. No, more than that, I love myself. That just wasn’t the experience of most of my earlier life — I drove myself to impossible standards and I frequently suffered from feelings of inadequacy and doubt. While I look worse than ever, make less money by far and am certainly less hot and sexy, and to top it off – often “out of it” in one or another ways, I am OK with it all. Because somehow, with the help of the universal good, critical thinking, smart people and my fabulous women and men friends, I am finally convinced, I am more than enough just the way I am — yes, at 65. Patty