Recently I wrote an article about suddenly turning sixty, a benchmark age for sure, but not one of panic. Friends of mine in this age category still work hard, play sports, and vacation around the world. Others may have slowed down a step or two, but live in a decade which suggest some miles to go before the journey’s end.
Still time, as the old newsreels did, marches on and despite some misgivings you’ve gone and turned seventy. For some it becomes a descriptive and precise time marking the homestretch of life. For others it’s a period of acute denial.
“What, me 70 – go on, whaddya, kiddin’ me? I don’t feel any older. Sure my kids are now middle aged, but that’s only some only kind of cosmic aberration in life. I can still do everything I did 30 years ago, and better.”
Maybe so, but for most reality demands a heavy payment for foolish notions. Yeah, that’s the 40 year-old inside talking, that same loutish youth who still wants you to eat cholesterol with impunity. He’s also the same one who allowed you to enter thirty without notice, slip into forty with denial and then turned fifty and sixty into a crisis. Why are you still listening to him?
Most everyone intends to live to one hundred, it’s a nice round number. We want to do it without too much snap, crackle and pop when we get up, or too many aches in our joints. There is no guarantee, of course I know that, but if you had known you were going to live so long, would you have taken better care of yourself? That way you may have steered clear of a heart attack, dodged that menacing cancer, or missed the roll of the dice known as diabetes. If you didn’t, then you’ll become coolly analytical. Your dentist will call it cranky as you put him off on spending thousands on dental work until you get your forthcoming physical.
Hopefully the memory stick is also still fully charged at this time, but if not, set aside ten minutes or so a day to find your glasses and fountain pen. The hearing too may start to suffer now and you might have trouble perceiving children with high-pitched voices in restaurants. This is not necessarily a bad thing – just ask some overstressed mothers.
Overall, turning seventy speeds wisdom towards maturity. You grew up in an age where adults were serious about work, commitments and family. As you raced along the path of life, you witnessed not only the death of men and ideas, but principles and customs. You rejoiced at births, cried at injustice and held the hand of good friends.
Now major victories or notable accomplishments, which were important even ten years ago, are less meaningful than friendship, family and love. Disappointments and failures are lessons to grandchildren about being been down but not out. As Chateaubriand so famously wrote: “…he is of a different race from the human species in whose midst he is ending his days.”
So, don’t be intimidated by the years, because they’re a natural flow of life. Regard instead the age of your character, which is something that will be sorely missed when the torch of your flame flickers out.