Friday, November 11, 2016

On turning old

My birthday comes next month, and for the first time, in many years, I feel uneasy. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to be having another birthday. I'm very glad to be still alive. But this year something's going to change. This year I turn old.

All through my 60s, I've allowed myself the illusion of remaining in middle age. Granted, it's been late middle age but still middle age. But in December I turn 70 and there's no way that 70 is middle aged. 70 is old.

It helps that my high school and college classmates are all turning 70 as well. I don't feel unique, I don't feel alone in the process. And yet it's a strange feeling, this getting old, this moving towards the end of a long life, for there's no denying that at 70, I have had a long life already. It doesn't seem that long sometimes but that's just the trick of time. 

I'm glad that I still have choices. I can be a youthful 70, flexible in mind and spirit, and somewhat flexible in body. I can remain open and curious and generous, instead of closing up and becoming cantankerous. I can make the very most of all the time I have left. I can hope there will be a lot of it. There's a lot I can control.

And there's things I won't be able to control. At some point, my body will give out. It's programmed to do that no matter how lucky I've been in the genetic lottery, and so far I've been pretty lucky. And I've made some good choices: sobriety, weight loss, steady exercise for many years. And I'm so grateful.

It's an adventure ahead of me. Time to shift from uneasy to curious.

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