I’ve never wanted to get old, and always dismissed it as something that would happen one day in the future, but a future too far away to even think about.
That future is looming, a little close for comfort, metaphorically a bit of a dark cape covering up my usual neon pink pashmina.
Being fifty-something isn’t really old – and I’m not quite sure at which exact date I’ll consider myself certifiably ancient, if ever.
Are we considered old perhaps when we get our pension, or our bus pass? I don’t know.
When I overheard my son refer to having spotted two old people walking along the beach, I realised he was referring to his dad and me. It came as a bit of a shock. So it’s quite obvious that our kids see us as old no matter how much we refute it or repeat, “fifty is the new 40” over and over again.
So is 50 really old? Or is it 60 or 70 or even 80?
The octogenarians that I know are lovely. They are independent, confident and dismissive of their aches and pains. These days they do what they want to, and most of them are not short of hobbies, creative pursuits or voluntary work that inspires them.
I don’t look at them as old.
I wonder if ‘old’ is all in the mind? Or is it our physical stamina and health which dictates how we feel about ageing?
1. You don’t necessarily feel as old as your years
On my 50th birthday I expected to feel different. I’d reached the half way mark to 100, if I ever lived that long, and had more probably reached about the three quarter mark of my life.
The thought of the lack of days left to live was sobering, quelled quickly with a few glasses of good wine as I celebrated my half century, but did I feel any different – Nah. I didn’t feel different at all.
But, oh crikey, that birthday is now long gone 😉
Author, Liz Byrski whose books I adore as they deal with the challenges and decisions facing women of a certain age, had this to say about getting old in a recent article in The Age …
2. You Do Get Set in Your Ways even if you think you don’t
We recently had friends to stay who have two gorgeous girls, aged 3 and 6 and probably as I watched them with their children I realised how set in our ways we’ve become and how we either lack the stamina, or have just become unused to being able to keep up with busy young children. I suddenly felt more like a grandparent than a parent, which was a very new feeling for me.
3. Ageing can’t be stopped (even if you’re a celebrity)
And I think facing the truth is necessary. Aging isn’t just something that happens without consequence. It’s not for wimps. Energy levels are depleted no matter how many green smoothies you consume. Your joints begin to ache and groan no matter how much yoga you commit to.
When I bend to squat down and pick up something, my knees complain royally and I realise that these sort of motions should not be sudden. I used to be able to jump straight out of a knee bend instead of examining the floor for a few moments as if looking for some lost treasure, before rising gently.
You might also like this post by my blogging friend Kathy Maris : The Ugly Truth about being 50+
4. Priorities change as you get older
Liz Byrski quoted the poet May Sarton who wrote at 70 that old age is life-enhancing. “Now I wear the inside person outside and I am more comfortable with myself. In some ways I am younger because I can admit vulnerability, and more innocent because I do not have to pretend.”
“Once we live as if we are dying, priorities are thrown into sharp relief.”
5. Our time becomes our own
And that’s true isn’t it? Once the children are independent (f we have them) and we’ve got over the empty nest syndrome, the focus is on us and how we shall live out our remaining years because as parents we are past our sell by date, and not needed on a day to day basis anymore.
We begin to realise that we have a limited time on this earth, and decisions are there for the making and the taking.
How are you going to embrace the precious gift of the time you have left?
You might also enjoy: 20 Tips for Living The Good Life after 50