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November 28, 2013 / Karen R Adams

soon I will be 60

In a few months, in fact.  And that sentence – in a few months I’ll be 60 – just weirds me out.

Who knew?  While I never thought it would happen (or thought about it at all, really), for someone of the generation that arrogantly thought anyone over 30 was, shall we say, a problem and untrustworthy to boot, this is a poser.

I have no idea how to do this, which is uncomfortable and a little bit scarey.  When I was a young mother, I sought out peers to explore, learn and kvetch with.  There were play groups, and other moms I’d hang with, and they at least gave me something to measure myself against.  Plus I always managed to find a friend who was my mother’s or grandmother’s age who could reassure me by saying things like ‘children don’t become reasonable human beings until they’re 28’, and keep me from ending up in the police log.

Or I had other students to hang with, or peers in the field I was currently inhabiting.  Now? Not as much.  In fact, now I’m the one younger folks come to for context and reassurance.

Oh sure, I have some friends who are older than I am, and some patients as well, but I don’t know how they live this stage, moment by moment.  I only get to see slices of their lives.  If I thought about it at all, I guess I thought it would be just like 40 only with more grey hair.  Which I’ve had since I was 30, so that’s no biggie.   Maybe more wrinkles.  Okay, probably more wrinkles, though I’m less sanguine about that than I was then.

I know, I know, nothing in life runs to plan – if we even bother to plan at all.  Still, I like to be able to see, to have some idea of how it will go.  Or maybe it’s just see the possibilities.  What are the paths available?  And, of course, I’d always be on the path, heh, of least resistance, all my dreams fulfilled, gracefully strolling along The Path of the Good Life until I just stepped through the Portal to What Comes Next.

I never thought it might mean less mobility or more entrenched opinions, less flexibility of mind and body.  Surely that doesn’t happen until the last 10 years of life – like in the 9th decade.  I’ll just go along being 40 until I’m 90, and start crumbling away.  For someone who seems, by nature, to be constantly expanding, it’s unnerving to spend more time going inward, contracting for gawd’s sake.

I mean, I’ve never liked climbing ladders, and now I can say I’ll get someone else to do that.  I could still do it, but I don’t like it, so I won’t.  It has nothing to do with a fear of what falling could mean to a 60 year old body.  It’s like changing a tire.  When I was younger it was like a feminist imperative to change my own flat tire.  I know I can do it, but, really, isn’t that why god created young people?  So I don’t have to any more?  It’s only my own monkey brain that starts chattering away about back strain and less upper body strength.  I could still do it, really.  I flipped the mattress on my bed the other day, and it wasn’t any harder than it was five years ago.

Declining Yang, they say.  Appropriate, they say.  Seasons of life, they say.  Blah, blah, blah, I say.  What they say doesn’t explain what it means, or more importantly, help me figure out how to do it.  And nowadays, it’s kinda hard to figure out who my peers are, never mind my role models.  60 doesn’t have a look, or a behavior.  Is that woman who just ran a marathon 60?  She doesn’t look 60.  It seems that obvious role model potentials are way, way older.  Aren’t they?  And plus, the obvious role models die (not ready to go there, boy howdy), so it feels more and more like I’m on my own in this.

That being said, if I’m on my own in figuring out how to be 60 (or 70 or 80), I think I’ll stick with the idea of being 40 until I’m not.  Maybe tweak things a bit; knowing how to adjust means I’m still flexible, right?  Yeah, ok, I can do that.

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