I have just celebrated (if “celebrate” is the right word) turning 60. I find myself mystified by reaching that milestone, for two reasons. First is that 60 always has sounded “really old” to me, even though I know and respect lots of folks who are way past 60 and who exhibit very youthful lives and thinking. Knowing those folks should help me to understand that 60 is not really old, but somehow that number 60 still sounds old to me. So I am mystified to be “old” because the calendar says I am 60.
Second is that I don’t know if I really “feel like I am 60.” Several people have asked me the question, “What does it feel like to be 60?” I don’t really have an answer to that question, because I don’t feel any different than I did a few days ago when I was technically still 59. In fact, if I had to name an age that I “feel like” then I suppose it would vary – some days I think of myself as about 35, others days 50+, but I don’t really know yet what 60 feels like.
Some people have tried to help me with this transition. My sister gave me a book entitled, “How Aging Affects Belt Height” and it is filled with cartoons about aging. Real helpful (ha-ha). AARP has been sending me membership offers for several years now, and I continue to throw those away because I think I am “not that old.” My kids gave me a card which says “Dad, you rock!” but of course the inside says, “Actually its more like you recline and rock slowly in your easy chair.” Ha-ha, again, and too true.
I have been helped most by this quote which I recorded but have forgotten where it originated (oh dear, am I becoming forgetful?):
“You are not just the age you are, you are all the ages you have ever been.”
Maybe that quote explains it. I am not just 60, I am all the ages I have ever been. Part of me is still a little kid. Part of me is still a teenager or young adult. Part of me is still the “young pastor” that I used to be. Part of me is a grown-up adult with adult kids of my own. And part of me, a new part of me, is 60 and still getting used to the idea.
I have noticed this truth in many so-called “elderly” people. They may look old, with wrinkled skin, wearied steps, and even fragile health. But if you get to know them, and listen to them, and watch closely, you also see that they are all the ages they have ever been – and those child-like aspects of their personality come through in some unexpected ways. They may have a twinkle in their eye, or they offer a subtle dry sense of humor that catches you off-guard, or they simply share new thoughts and new ideas which are refreshingly “young” in spirit. Why? Because they are not just 90 or 80 or 70, they are all the younger ages they have always been, too.
So, how old am I? The calendar says I am 60. But don’t let that fool you, because I am all the ages I have ever been.