Thursday, February 5, 2009
The Other Side of Sixty 2-4-09
I turned sixty today—that’s 60 years old. Those who have already crossed over this mark and adjusted to the shock of being older than dirt, are snickering about how I’m just a young’un, while those who haven’t made it yet are intentionally refusing to give it conscious thought. Being new to the dirt pile, I can still remember yesterday when I secretly and fearfully looked at sixty and didn’t like what I saw.
To begin with, I planned to be better prepared. I’ve been working on this moment for years, but somehow it still sneaked up on me. Every time I turn around, something that I should have been prepared for is overtaking me. I flop between not wanting to be anal, and being so laissez-faire that the truck runs me over before I know what’s happened.
My hair is a mess. By now I really thought I would have found my best hair-do to see me through the next (dare I say last) third of my life. Something I could count on. But no. I have not become one with my hair, its coarse, wavy texture, or its thickness everywhere except in front where it’s getting white and thinning around the hairline. I hate spending so much time messing with it…
Then there’s the weight problem. I meant with all my heart to be at a good weight when I celebrated this day. Instead, I’m twenty pounds overweight, and critically close to the obese marker. My BMI is high, my blood pressure was high until I started medication, and my unruly cholesterol is now controlled by an occasional statin and a MUFA diet.
Who is this person in the official birthday picture blowing out the proverbial flame of youth on the birthday cake? She looks like someone I might like to know, but she surely doesn’t look like me. For years I’ve been really hard on myself, and always thought I looked worse than I really did, but finally it’s caught up with me. If that is really ME in the picture, then I have exceeded my own expectations and actually look worse than I ever thought I would.
But for all the bad things that came with sixty, there is one thing that is far better than I could have ever imagined. I’ve never been surrounded by so many people I truly care about at one time. There was a moment when we were all gathered around a large dinner table. I looked around the table where many conversations were going full blast, and marveled at having all those diverse people sitting at one table enjoying the company of each other. As far as I could tell, everyone was having a great time, and I felt blessed, really blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends and relatives.
That’s the bonus of aging, and it’s not to be taken lightly. While I didn’t do a very good job on my hair and weight, my ‘loved ones’ pantry is fully stocked. This very unlikely group came together and found common ground. I’m not saying that you have to be 60 to have a good group of friends, but mine is certainly shaping up and I love them more each day!
There were many faces not present at that table for various reasons, but they were there in my heart. My being is a conglomeration of all these relationships. So, here’s a new ‘ism’ for you…we’re not really what we eat, but we are who we love. That’s true of all ages, and gets better with time, just like the really good wine we were drinking.