I digress, briefly, from my usual fare of politics, social injustice, and troubles around the globe, in order to reflect for just a few moments about ‘coming of age’. For today I reached a milestone, one which I have been dreading for a while, but also one I used to doubt I would ever reach, yet here I am. No, I did not hit that magical 21, nor do I wish that were the case. Instead, the milestone I reached is that of 65. I tried rebelling. In my best Eeyore voice, I said “No, I do not think I wish to be 65.” But time just kept marching on, and now here we are. My daughter asked, “What do you want for your birthday?” To which I replied somewhat grumpily, “What I want is to not have a birthday this year, please, for I do not wish to be 65.” But nonetheless, time just kept marching on. And now here we are, with stars hanging from the ceiling, a birthday cake with candles blown out (took a few tries), and cards & presents, not to mention tons of Facebook wishes, all greatly appreciated, I might add.
Why is being 65 any different than being 64, or 40, or even 25, for that matter? ‘Age is a state of mind’, they say. ‘You are only as old as you feel’, they say. I keep hearing ‘it’s just a number’. But all those lovely platitudes … they are muttered by people who are younger, people who are not limited by the harsh realities that come with having attained a certain age, people for whom 65 is still yet just an imaginary number. With 65 comes the realization that one can no longer think of oneself as either ‘young’ or even ‘middle-aged’. Daughter says to me, “but you are only one day older than you were yesterday.” “No,” I say, somewhat brusquely, “that is a lie.” For you see, every year since 40 has lain in wait for this very moment to come dashing in, crushing the spirit with their weight. I was 40 until I was 65.
Never one to dwell in sadness or depression, I am working diligently on finding the humour of this situation in which I unwillingly find myself. A few short months ago (when I was yet just 40), I made a vow to leave the world of “I can’t” and enter the realm of “I’ve got this”. To that end I started walking, at first just over a mile, and now am up to 3+ miles daily. But today, I must admit that the world of “I can’t” has briefly reclaimed my spirit and as I walked this morning, I wondered “why bother”? If there is humour to be found here, I suppose it is in the knowledge that now I can officially act a bit strange (which I have always done anyway) and people will just say, “ahhhh … look at that old biddy … she’s a bit dotty, but it’s alright … she’s old, you know.”
And as a gift for attaining this ripe age, my dear Uncle Sam (what we refer to as the U.S. government, for my friends around the globe) decided I didn’t need so much money anymore, and cut my Social Security check by some $120 each month! Gee … thanks, Uncle! I love you too!
All-in-all, though, I am thankful for much in my life. I have been many places, done many things, and met many people, mostly good people. I have many who love me, I have my daughter, granddaughter and 7 kitty-babes to wake up to each morning, a guy I care much about, a body that still mostly functions, and a mind that mostly does the same. Plus, there is something to be said for the wisdom and experience of so many years spent on this planet. So, I shall just give myself a smack on the head (not too hard, though, lest something else come loose) and get on with this business of living, for to sit around moping over ‘just a number’ would be such a waste, yes?