In a month from now I will turn 60 years old – an age I once considered “really old”.
One of the strangest things about getting older is the realization that other people you once thought of as much more advanced than you – are, in fact, only a few years older.
I was shocked to recently discover that a mentor of mine from many years ago in the radio industry – a person I looked up to and learned a lot from, is only 5 years older than me. I was sure he was “way older” but no – he’s only a few heart beats away from me.
Celebrities I followed in my youth are also, surprisingly, either my age or only a year or two older. Madonna, like me, is 59. Actor Kurt Russell, who I always thought of as considerably older than me, has me beat by a meager 6 years.
As we get older, we realize that a year is not that long. I used to think that 10 years was a lifetime. Now, I know better. Ten years can flash by in a minute.
When I was young, just starting my own business, I was the kid in the room – surrounded by grey-haired clients who saw me as someone who had energy and ideas, but without experience. Today, I am amazed to sit at meetings where I am, by far, the most experienced person there. The tables are now 100% reversed. I get to claim, with an abundance of credibility, that I actually know what I am talking about, even if I don’t.
I have to admit, it scares me every time I hear about someone dying around age 70. For me, that’s only a short decade from now.
But death after 7 decades is increasingly rare. We humans are living longer and longer, and it’s not unusual to make it to age 90. As a society, we need to accept that “old age” will last a lot longer than “youth.”
Hugh Heffner of Playboy fame just died at the ripe old age of 91, and Monty Hall at 96. Warren Buffet is 87. And actor Kirk Douglas, who many people believe is dead, is still breathing at age 100.
Energy, or the lack of it, is a big deal as we age. Yet, I know people 10 and 20 years older than me who seem to have more energy than a 20 year old. I found out their secret – naps! (Something I have been trying lately with great results).
The older I get, the more relaxed I get. Nothing bothers me very much anymore, perhaps because I have a lifetime of ups and downs behind me. I’m more accepting too – because, as the years pass by, we finally realize that life – with all its bumps – is worth the ride.
As a young person, I often questioned why we are here – what is the purpose of life? Now that I’m older, I’ve stopped asking why, and instead, find myself just giving thanks. Life is a gift. What we do with it is up to us. We can abuse it, waste it, hate it and question it – or we can accept it, use it to help others, and enjoy it.