During the five months I’ve been blogging, I’ve spoken with more than a hundred people in their 50s and older about their experience and views on aging. The resounding consensus is that life is great and getting better all the time. It seems to me this is indicative of a real transformation underway: instead of growing older being a story of ‘decline’, a couple of generations are starting to declare that the 2nd half of life might be the best half.
Here are a few of the common themes from my conversations:
- I feel 20 years younger than my age would suggest, and although I’m growing older all the time, I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘old’
- I am surprised at how busy I am since retirement
- Since I retired, I am seeing all sorts of opportunities I hadn’t noticed before
- My libido is getting stronger as I get older
- I am having a lot more fun discovering and then doing what I really want to do—rather than what I thought I should want to do when I retired
- I live one moment at a time—and that allows me to be less stressed, to appreciate everything that appears in my life, and to enjoy the gift of life itself
- I love challenging myself with something new, and, even though I sometimes need help, I know I can do and achieve anything I want to … beyond even what I think is possible (like winning medals at the Masters Championships and taking up dragon boating at age 75)
- I find myself being a role model – inspiring younger people with how I’m playing the game of my life with passion
- Sharing my time, wisdom and energy with others, like my grandchildren, has given me a source of feeling valued that far exceeds any satisfaction I got while ‘working for a living’
- I’m finally comfortable with my body—accepting and appreciating my own beauty and abilities
- I am always learning, always curious about what’s around the next corner—and I now like the fact that you can’t know what’s next
I don’t want to generalize based on such a small sample, but if these themes are more common than not, it is good news. That isn’t to say there still isn’t a lot of unnecessary suffering due to ageism and stereotyping of the old, but it could be a good indicator of things to come. And we do still resist the idea of ‘being old’. But this is certainly not the tale of woe we’ve been sold by the mass media.
We can never know when our time will be up. But, no matter what our age, we can choose the approach we take to the time we have left. Since I’ve chosen to play the game ‘full out’ to the end, I’ve been experiencing an abundance of happiness, passion, satisfaction and fulfillment in my 60s…who knows what the next decades will bring?
After all, life is for living…