I just had my 60th birthday and I'm incredulous that I've lived so many years. I wasn't in the mood to mark the occasion at a party venue festooned with black balloons and "over the hill" jokes. I'd had that experience 10 years earlier when my husband threw a surprise party for me against my wishes. I felt confident he wouldn't be a repeat offender since we had reservations to be on a United flight that day. So, I marked the big occasion curled up in my child-sized seat behind an inconsiderate passenger who cranked his seat as far back as it would go for the entire six-hour tedious ordeal. Not the type of activity that makes one feel vibrant and alive. Nonetheless, my birthday did not go unacknowledged. Both my real friends, as well as dozens of my Facebook "friends" tried to buck me up, telling me that I look younger than my years and posting the typical age-denying slogan: "60 is the new 40."
But, I'm not a person who's good at denial. While I still look fairly decent if you catch a quick glimpse from the back, a full frontal reveals the real story. I find it downright frightening to look at a selfie. In fact, I'm considering investing in a selfie stick to get a little distance from reality so I don't scare young children. Since I refuse to enhance my looks in any way, I look like a television newsreader in HD who skipped hair and makeup.
The feel-good cliché that "50 is the new 30" never resonated with me, so I find myself even less convinced a decade down the road. I have no idea what a 60-year-old Lorie is supposed to feel like, nor do I have a vivid mental snapshot of my younger self. Still, I appreciate the sentiment and hope there's at least a grain of truth in it.
I'm also a Gerontologist, so I'm quite cognizant of the fact that our bodies are made to procreate and then gradually start shutting down. Every system in our bodies slows to a crawl and formerly supple tissues get brittle and dry. I definitely notice that the 60-year-old Lorie is at least a half step slower than the 20-year-old version. At this advanced age I know better than to even attempt to work the 12-hour days that were routine in my youth.
Then there are the weird things that come with aging, like when a minor bump turns into an angry purple contusion, the unwelcome sight of bare scalp where thick hair used to reside, and coarse hairs sprouting in unwelcome places. Getting older also takes a psychic toll. Whenever a new ache or pain crops up, I panic and start worrying that I'll have to live with it forever. Usually it dissipates, but not until I've worked myself into Ativan territory.
Nonetheless, the glass is always half-full in my world, so here are 10 upsides to being a little past my prime:
1. I'm able to enjoy the small important moments
2. I care less and less about what anyone thinks about me (husband excepted)
3. I'm willing to admit my weaknesses and play to my strengths
4. I don't worry about a far-off Armageddon like climate change
5. I'm quite comfortable in my skin
6. I've learned to avoid negative people and surround myself with upbeat friends
7. I no longer care to accumulate "stuff" (shoes excepted)
8. I've finally learned to relax, at least a little
9. I have a good fix on what makes me happy, and of course
10. Aging beats the alternative!