Saturday, September 22, 2018

On Turning 60

"My biggest fear is a health crisis that will degrade my life, or that of a member of my family."
In response to my recent post on the brevity of life and the difficulty in making changes, I received an insightful response from long-time correspondent, Kevin M. who writes the Out Of Your Rut blog. (Here's one of his recent posts: Is 75 the New 65? There May Be No Choice)
I found myself nodding in recognition of Kevin's observations on turning 60. (I'm 64.) Many readers may feel they speak to turning 50 or even 40.
Here is Kevin's commentary:
"Excellent report. I turned 60 this year, and share many of your observations. It’s good to see you articulate what many are feeling, but few discuss.
Here are some of my own random thoughts on turning 60:
-- I’m at what I feel is the best time in my life, an outcome my younger self would never have anticipated. Life really is strange.
-- I spend more time being thankful for the things I’ve done in my life, and think increasingly less on the ones I haven’t. I attribute this in part to making major life changes in my 50s.
-- Taking the above point a step further, I remain open to future changes. Flexibility is one of our best allies as we age, but one so many abandon as they get older.
-- A point you made so clearly, life goes by much faster than we can imagine in what used to be the endless days of youth. That’s painfully obvious now.
-- Life is not as "clean" as I once thought it could be. It’s downright messy, and that doesn’t change when you reach some theoretical golden years.
-- Like you, many of my best ideas lay waste in the graveyard. But at this point I reckon I was never that passionate about bringing them to reality, otherwise I’d have tried harder. Not all ideas and dreams are meant to become our destiny. I’ve let go of the ones I didn’t pursue.
-- We’re imperfect people, surrounded by imperfect people, living imperfect lives in an imperfect world. I’ve come to terms with that, and I’m happier as a result.
-- Energy is the biggest casualty. I don’t have as much of if as I did 10 years ago. I have to limit what I do each day, but the slowdown – and the reduction in pressure – seem to be making me more efficient and productive.
-- To offset the loss of energy (and physical strength), we learn to make better use of our time and the energy we do have. We also use creativity, flexibility, and better leverage (of time and resources) to accomplish what we once did with brute strength.
-- I find I have to "push" myself – to be very intentional about what I need to do. Automatic pilot stopped working years ago, and it’s been replaced by to-do lists that are much shorter but more focused than they were in my younger days.
-- I feel totally blessed to do the work that I do (blogging/freelance writing), especially when I see the many people over 60 working in retail, hotels, and delivery services. I did many of those jobs when I was younger, and can’t imagine doing them now.
-- I’m also blessed to be a corporate "outsider". The less system dependent we are, the better life seems to go as we age. As you embrace outsider status, you realize you have more options in life. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed in other outsiders. I like it. You’ve inspired me on that path over the years.
-- Family, friends and faith have become much more important. They’re important throughout life, but they become virtually life sustaining as we age.
-- Being thankful and celebrating each day has become a life skill. We can either live a life of being thankful for what we do have, or be miserable for what we don’t.
-- I’ve come to accept that my life will end one day, and that there are many goals I won’t achieve. But I’ll focus on the few I do accomplish and ring the victory bell with each.
-- My biggest fear is a health crisis that will degrade my life, or that of a member of my family. Our society doesn't have much of a safety net to help us deal with that, especially considering that the potential extent of such a disaster is virtually without limit (medical costs, ongoing care, etc)."
Thank you, Kevin, for the "food for thought" on aging. What we think about ourselves and our life, consciously and subconsciously, does shape the course of our life. We're not mechanisms or computers.
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