WINNIPEG, MB - The question we all have in our minds, no matter what age we are, is what is it like to be “old”?
What we usually hear is that it stinks, that it’s “no fun”, that it’s not what “it’s cracked up to be.” The fact is, that this completely depends on who you are. It also depends on what you consider “old”.
“Old” is a state of attitude, not so much of mind or body. You may not have quite the same amount of energy as you had when you were 18, but neither do some people at 30, 40, 50 or 60. If you exercise your muscles, they respond as they always did – getting stronger the more you work them and the same is true of your mind. If you work hard, concentrate and think, the result is there – moreover, in many cases it is more fruitful than it used to be because you simply know more, having lived longer and collected a lot more experience and knowledge.
True, mental reactions may not be as swift as they used to be, but part of that is needing a bit more time to check your experience reference library. You have also learned that responding quickly (and sometimes mistakenly) can lead you into hot water. It may be wiser, you have learned, to do a bit more research (thinking) before coming to a conclusion.
Fast think vs. slow think; neither is wrong, they are just different. In your 70s, it’s very liberating to be able to offer an opinion knowing it is grounded in experience. Liberating also is the fact that you will have lost so many of those limiting self-doubts you had in the past. You have learned not be so judgmental, and that times have changed – what was true in the past may not work today.
One thing that hasn’t changed is how you view yourself. You often hear older people say that they “don’t feel any differently now than they did at 20” and that is true. Emotions remain as they were. Your view of the world, while perhaps expanded, remains much the same. You feel you are the very same person you were back then.
If you were in love with a certain person at 20, chances are that love is just the same at 70. (And your physical responses remain the same, too, by the way.) Contrary to what many younger people no doubt think, your body is not necessarily clothed in wrinkles. Your undergarment skin is still smooth and interesting... as are other parts of your body. Your sexuality is not diminished as a natural function of passing years.
This is a fascinating time of life. You still have much to look forward to no matter how many years have gone by. Today, you can expect to be around, vital and busy and contributing, well into your 80s and beyond. Don’t waste the years past 65 regretting the past. Revel in the years you have lived and the freedom they accord you in helping to shape the future.
After all, at this age, what do you have to lose?
Mary Wilson for Lifestyles 55 and Manitoba Post