Today is my last day to be fifty-something. Tomorrow–October 14, 2014–I will turn 60. At 8:15 pm to be exact, which I suppose means I’ll still be 59 during the daylight hours. (I can hold on if I want to).
Now that I am six decades old, I find I don’t have any particular wisdom to pass on.
Other than this:
When I reached my first decade, I thought I knew more than my dad. We argued a lot during the sixties, especially after the evening news. I was always completely sympathetic to the civil rights movement, women’s liberation movement, and just about every other social cause. Dad was more like Archie Bunker–slow to accept the inevitable.
When I reached my second decade I thought I knew more than everyone else. After all, I had read many books, spent time in college, and had a wide circle of enlightened friends. You couldn’t tell me anything.
When I reached my third decade, I was absolutely certain that I knew everything. At 30 I had spent four years in college, worked at least 7 jobs, and had traveled all over the lower 48 states. I had bought a house, a car, and had befriended Debbie Reynolds. What else was there to know?
When I reached my fourth decade I had a few days of panic. I wasn’t quite sure how it had arrived so quickly. I had to do and re-do the math to make certain, but yep, I was 40. I fell into a slump there for a few weeks, questioning everything I thought I knew, and wondering what the heck to do now. Realizing it was time to get serious, I changed direction and got a degree from college.
When I reached my fifth decade (which seems like 20 minutes ago), I had an even greater and more powerful episode of panic. I tried not to show it. I went back to college and got yet another degree, this time an MBA. Still, I wasn’t quite satisfied.
Now I’m on the cusp of my sixth decade. And you know what? I’m actually taking the attitude of “been there, done that.” I guess it has taken me this long to realize that aging, however it causes us to panic, reflect, or second-guess ourselves, is just a fact of life.
I don’t feel any older today than I did this time last year. I keep working to improve my mind and body. And I know I’m a kinder, gentler person. Everyone says so anyway.
No, I won’t panic tomorrow, or enroll in yet another college course. I won’t second-guess where I am or where I need to be. Instead, I will be grateful, for there are far too many others who never made it this far.
And let’s face it: Aging certainly beats the alternative.