I am 59 and 3/4 years old as I write this.
Soon to be 60.
How the world has changed in these mere six decades.
Not only in my own body, world and mind, but in the world itself in general.
This laptop I am writing on was only a distant dream in 1962, the year I was born.
Cell phones, tablets, and all the modern technology we couldn’t live without in this year 2022 was but a fantasy. Unless you watched Star Trek. Gene Rodenberry was a futurist for sure. Every gadget he had imagined for the series has come into fruition. Except for teleportation. Beam me up, Scottie! But I am sure that is not far off. Perhaps I will even see it in my lifetime. Although I will never get the movie The Fly out of my memory. When Jeff Goldblum gets mutated with a fly as he is being teleported. He was never the same. But I digress.
I am forced to do a little introspection on the edge of being 60.
Nearly there, but not quite.
I am now officially a senior, by some merits.
The other day while in a drug store the girl at the checkout automatically gave me my seniors discount.
I was momentarily offended, questioning her, and she offered to take it back.
I quashed my pride. Five bucks is five bucks.
Perhaps she knew my age because I had, after all, proferred my special points card.
Perhaps, even behind my disposable mask, she could see the laughlines and crows feet around my eyes. Wrinkles are where the smiles were.
The odd silver strand of hair wresting away from the rest of the strawberry blonde locks.
I am grateful and happy to be able to say that I am still the proud owner of my original hair colour. All the highlighting and experimenting I did when I was younger to change what I was given naturally, done with. Apart from the random grays sneaking their way in, I am still a strawberry blonde. When the grays start taking over, I will be glad that gray is actually a preferred colour choice these days for many younger women as well. It is actually the new blonde! Who would have ever thunk that?
Other bodily changes I am witnessing include an increasing stiffness in my joints. Something I am trying my best to keep at bay with daily yoga stretches. So far, it seems to be working. Arthritis, I am told, goes away with movement. Movement is medicine, and all that. And so, moving it is! Hand joints seem to be worse for wear, especially in the cold or damp. As a lifelong typist, I will try my best to keep those as nimble as possible. I am already noticing that my right pinkie doesn’t seem to want to stretch as far as it used to when it comes to the “return” key. It just falls short, settling on the backwards slash instead. So annoying!
Strength is something else I am noticing slipping away. Everything seems so heavy these days. When it really is not. I am forcing myself to do exercises every other day; pushups (45), situps, plank (45 seconds), weight lifts (5 pounds, 20 reps, four exercises). I envision Arnold Schwarzenegger when I am doing the weight lifts. I watched that 70+ senior lift huge a huge barbell on a YouTube video for MensHealth magazine. He is a force of nature, to be sure. Not that my goal is to lift any sort of barbell, but to not have to worry about carting home a 20 pound bag of cat litter is my wish. Even the 45 pound limit of our garbage can seems extraordinarily heavy. Until I put the whole thing on a bathroom scale and realize it is only 40 pounds. How do those garbage men lift that even?!?! Oh, yes, they are much younger than me.
Vision is going. I now always need to pop on my magnifying readers in order to see anything close up.
Hearing is starting to wane. I find myself re-listening to some tv shows. Lower tones are becoming a bit harder to hear.
What else. Oh yes. Stamina. I cannot seem to be able to go for a long walk, say 45 minutes or more, without feeling extremely tired and hungry afterwards. Naps are underrated. They are a necessary energy booster that are a lifesaver also. And I take no shame in having a “time out” for a half hour or so in the afternoons. Sometimes with a cat on my lap. Or on my chest if I choose to take my break on my yoga mat on the office floor. Both of us basking in the sunshine that streams through the window.
Appetite is another area that I am watching slip away. I used to pride myself and be able to polish off whole Swiss Chalet quarter chicken dinner, complete with fries, and roll with butter and dipping sauce.
Not any more.
If I am able to get through half of it, I am overjoyed! Saving the remainder of the fries for another time. I still have a good appetite, but if I eat the same amount that I used to, I am so uncomfortable that I cannot bear it. I think my stomach has shrunk. And so I monitor my intake accordingly. I have the same thing virtually every day if I can. And yet I still seem to be putting on the pounds. Perhaps my metabolism is ever shrinking also. It is a cruel joke.
Patience and compassion have increased exponentially. I have more of both than I ever have. Perhaps too much.
Wisdom is another area that I feel has grown a lot. And the ability to say what I feel and not really care what other people think anymore. Because when one is staring down 60, it’s almost a “who cares” attitude.
I still have pride. I still do my hair and put on my makeup and get dressed and up and at ’em every day.
Taking collagen in my coffee in the morning, Vitamin D and Calcium in the afternoon.
I haven’t given up. The way George did on Seinfeld when he started wearing sweat pants.
I feel I must continually challenge my brain. I love to read and learn and see and hear the news. I love taking online courses. I love being involved in real estate still. Keeping on top of and on track with the market. Helping anyone who needs help. Navigating the new techological waters of computers. Owning not only a cell phone, but two tablets (one recently retired), a writing laptop, a home/office laptop, a work/office laptop, and another recently acquired backup laptop as well. I am able to figure out some computer issues, and have embraced the new technologies that the real estate industry encompasses. Booking showings online and using electronic lockboxes (no small feat, even for younger people, as they require not only bluetooth technologies but GPS as well), and even using electronic signature programs. I try to do at least one WordSearch puzzle each day. I have recently started enjoying simple crosswords as well, but I find they are more frustrating than satisfying.
I keep daily logs and notes and a daytimer, checking off things I have accomplished each day; keeping track of the health of various aging pets including Pumpkin the horse and Chester the cat. I find they help keep me focussed, help me unburden my worries, and keep me on the path of the straight and narrow. Give me goals each day. Even if it is just going for a walk, doing my yoga, and exercises.
I keep an office at the office. I enjoy going in and chatting with anyone who is around.
If there is nothing on the schedule of my daytimer for the day, I am getting used to enjoying that too. To not worry that I am not contributing anything to society that day. To accept the break and use it to just hang.
I try not to turn on the tv for programs until the evening. Daytime tv is too tempting to have it tuned to anything other than The Weather Network. I don’t want to just veg and watch talkshows.
I am looking forward to starting to receive my CPP payments the month after I turn 60. A small reward for all the work I have done over the years, and a thank you for the contributions I have made through that work.
Feeling more and more grateful for every single thing every single day is something that has ever increased over the past couple of years. Thanking God and the universe for a full and ample pantry and fridge. For the health of the pets. For safe passage. For sunshine. A wonderful home. All of it.
Dealing with loss is another side effect of approaching 60. My younger brother last year. My dad a few months later. And now watching my mum slip away too. As someone once said, you miss a lot of people when you’re my age.
Learning about and coping with death is a new and interesting reality. It is a hardening and heartbreaking entity, death. So final. It cannot help but lend one to believe in an afterlife of some sort. Or a heaven. Up there. In the clouds. There must be some hope for us all.
Staring down the fact that there may only be a decade or two or three left, God willing, on this glorious earth. We never know for sure. Will we have a long life? Or a short life?
What I do know for sure is that because we do NOT know for sure, we have to, I have to, try to make every second, every minute count. Be good for something. Try not to waste too much. To love. To give. To try.
Because as Taylor Swift once said, it is good to be defined by what we love.