Of all the changes and transitions I’ve made in my life – and there have been plenty of them – this one now is surely one of the most challenging. It takes grit and, God knows, a sense of humor.
Moving gracefully into the world of the “senior citizen” (Who me?) is an adventure, requiring grace and gratitude and even, oddly, ambition. Truth is I never really gave this phase of life much thought. And in that, I’m sure I’m like many others.
Older folks are often invisible, certainly to the young, but also to much of society. I think I always thought of them as inhabiting a very different space than I. As if they were a different form of life or something equally absurd. But now this “other” phase of life is upon me. Trust me, it’s much harder and also way more fun than folks let on!
I tell myself that I’m at the young end of senior citizen and it’s true. But there’s no question, no question at all, that time is of the essence. Things can change in a heartbeat. I know, of course, that things can change in an instant for everyone and at every age. An accident, an illness, an unhappy surprise – or even a happy one for that matter – can upend your life and alter your path. But somehow, when you hit a certain age, all that seems much more real. You know people for whom it’s all turned on a dime and probably more than one. It’s not nearly so remote any more. In fact, it even starts to feel pretty inevitable.
But It’s Not All Bad
Let me stop here though lest you think I’m sad about all of this. I’m not. I’ve spent a great deal of time with younger people in my work as a financial advisor, with my own children and their friends and especially in the various yoga classes I enjoy. I never wish I was 30 again. The truth is it’s fun knowing things that I just couldn’t’ have known at 30. It’s fun to accept myself more now than I did then. It’s fun being less ambitious than I was then. It’s even fun sometimes being somewhat invisible to younger people since it makes it so easy to simply observe. And, even though it’s not especially fun to understand – and I mean REALLY understand – that you don’t have an infinite amount of time ahead of you, it’s also valuable. It all seems so much more precious and fleeting. The colors are brighter. The smells richer. When I stand on the yoga mat with strength and solidity, I’m incredibly grateful. And sometimes, when I feel that beautiful sense of wholeness or integration or balance that you sometimes achieve in yoga, I could almost cry for the simplicity and the power of it. It may be hard and sad to get older – certainly that’s the view of our society and probably is the experience of some folks – but it’s also filled with quiet and deep joy. There’s just so much to appreciate.
The Young Are Great Too
Still, I have to say, I do love being around younger people. I love hearing about their priorities, their aspirations, their world view. Honestly, I find many of the young people I’m around to be nicer people than some of the folks in my own generation, especially in the yoga world. Young adults are incredibly connected to each other. They’re concerned about the earth. They’re spiritual in a beautiful way. At least the ones I’m around. The world is far smaller to them than it ever was to us. They’re the future of our world. We should pay attention to what they envision. Not to set them straight, mind you, but to join in with grace. To enter that great wave of energy the young so naturally produce.
The young are great. But make no mistake about it. I never wish I was 30 again. 30 was wonderful but so is 67. A 30-year-old may not feel any surprise at all to glide easily into half moon pose. But believe me, it might just make a 67-year-old giddy!
Envious of One Thing Though
All that said, I will confess that there’s one area where I do envy the young. I envy them the many adventures that await them. Looking back, I’ve had some terrific adventures. Those that went with my 20’s morphed into the ones from my 30’s and then my 40’s and my 50’s. Family, friends, career, travel, homes and hobbies. So many interesting twists and turns. Filled with challenges but also fun and opportunities. The young people I enjoy have all these fortunes ahead of them and I envy them that. There’s a good chance I have more exciting exploits behind me than I do ahead.
But Could the Best Be Still To Come?
And yet, I wonder. This brings me full circle. What do I really know about being in my late 60’s, my 70’s and beyond? (My mother lived well and strong to age 100, thank you very much.) Maybe moving through these next years will be the greatest adventure of them all. Could it be a well-guarded secret of the elderly, that getting older is a blast? That unbeknownst to all of us when we’re young, it’s the quest of a lifetime? Now there’s a great thought!