I turn 58 this year, the same age Frances Bavier was the first season she played Aunt Bee in the 1960’s television show, The Andy Griffith Show. Thankfully, 58 no longer looks like it did back then, but, although it’s still two years away, I am already struggling with the thought of turning 60.
This is a new experience for me; I’ve had no problems whatsoever with any of the other decade markers. When I mentioned this struggle to my older brother, who has already passed this particular milestone, he smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s because 60 is old.” Thanks a lot for the encouragement.
In looking back over the years, I have to recognize some mile-markers in my life: I graduated from high school 40 years ago; I was married 39 years ago; my first child was born 37 years ago; I was divorced 28 years ago; my first grandchild was born 12 years ago; I became single again 9 years ago. Wow, my brother was right, I’m getting old; really old.
I am not alone; my entire generation, the baby boomers, are getting old with me. According to Wikipedia, baby boomers are people born during the demographic post–World War II baby boom approximately between the years 1946 and 1964.
“One feature of the boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self-perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon. The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave” and as “the pig in the python.”
As we should have expected though, time marches forward and we’re no longer the hip, young, rebellious generation who was going to change the world. We are rapidly becoming the senior citizens of the world. It is amazing to realize there are people who were born in the same decade as me who are retiring and collecting social security. How could this be?
My birthdays tend to make me reflective. I have put a lot of effort into learning to live in the moment. However, there are certain times in your life when it’s okay to look back on your life. What are the things I would do differently if I had it all to do over?
- I would try to be more patient; I have a lot of natural talent in a lot of areas, but patience is not a natural state of mind for me. I snapped, crackled and popped a lot more through the years than I like to remember. I was funny in my impatience and my girls have a lot of memorable sayings in their repertoire as a result, but I would’ve been a better parent if I was less hilarious and more patient.
- I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry for the kids to grow up. When I remember back to the years that my girls were growing up all I can remember is a blur of activity. I spent way too much time trying to hurry them through their days and years in the misguided hope it (they) would get easier with time. I should’ve spent more time sitting back and enjoying where they were on any given day. Except the days they all had PMS; those days couldn’t go by fast enough.
- I would’ve taken better care of my body. People who have only known me for the last 20 years or so only know the active, athletic me. My teenage and adult years up until then were not spent taking particularly good care of my temple. My temple was more of a place to go hang out to eat what I wanted, drink what I wanted, smoke what I wanted, and sleep when I wanted. It was a lot of fun, but I have frequently wondered what level of athleticism I could have achieved if I’d started working my body more aggressively when it was still young and impressionable.
I also choose to reflect back on the things I did right. As usual, it’s harder for me to think of the things I did right, but here are three:
- I raised three wonderful, caring, adult women. They have accepted the responsibilities of adulthood smoothly and with their heads raised high and their eyes looking ahead. These women have blessed me with my five grandchildren who are truly the reason I allowed their mothers to survive their teenage years. Nothing makes me happier than when I see a grandchild behaving just like their mother did years ago.
- I succeeded in the corporate world until I was done. When I no longer felt the need to work my ass off to make money for other people I stepped away. I have been successful in living a life that makes me happy every single day.
- As an adult I have had the passion to pursue my dreams. When I chose to take on the business world, I did it; when I chose to become a competitive athlete, I did it; when I chose to step back and put my efforts into painting, writing and teaching yoga, I did it. I was in a unique position to be able to make these decisions, but I was the one who took the deep breath each time and said, “I can do that.”
My birthday last year was pretty much dominated by being in a serious car wreck. Since that day, it’s felt like every month something has happened in my life that pretty much felt like a hard punch in the gut. The good news is that I am a firm believer that each person’s birthday is their own, personal New Year’s, so I am eagerly looking forward to all the positive things that are going to happen in the next year. I am ready to move forward to a smoother year ahead with more highs and fewer lows.
Since I turned 50 I have made it a habit to spend the entire month of May celebrating. Other than a couple of days in the hospital due to an extremely nasty bug, I have tried my best to continue that tradition this year.
I try to celebrate each and every day; I just do it with more intention in May. A celebration doesn’t have to be a big event, nor does it have to be for just one person. There is still some time left in the month, so if I see you, please consider it a celebration. If we dine or drink together, we will raise a toast to the new year and to all the new possibilities out there for both of us.