I’ve only been 70 a few days now but I thought it would feel older. It still sounds old, but when my age odometer turned over to that number, it didn’t feel as much so as I assumed it would.
Oh sure, my body shows some wear and tear and there are times I have aches and pains in places I never knew existed before. I no longer have any interest in high adrenaline sports now that I get enough of a rush from simply descending a staircase wearing my multifocal glasses. But even if you don’t consider Senior Discounts enough of an advantage, there are a lot of other benefits to being 70.
Of course, health is the key to how much enjoyment we might find at this or any age. Despite having moved through several surgeries in the last year, I gratefully remain in good health. And, at 70, I intend to do all I can to keep my health robust. That’s one of the things about being a septuagenarian, there is no denying that my time lived is much longer than my time left, and taking care of the machine is paramount to taking best advantage of whatever is ahead. That makes what is ahead even sweeter and more precious, and serves as a reminder to enjoy this crazy ride as much as possible.
Friends – usually younger friends – like to tell me that, “age is just a number.” That’s true. It is. But, 70 is a really big number. Some offer support by saying that “seventy is the new 50”, and I appreciate that, but I like 70 to just be 70. I don’t want to deny a single year of my life experience because every one of those years got me here and I’m really happy right here. In fact, life is becoming more fun all the time. Heightening the fun factor is learning that “No” is a complete sentence. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want or choose to do. So, if you were considering asking me to help you move, the answer is a hard “No”.
But age is also softening me. There’s a balance between being pulled inward as well as outward. With more emphasis on being rather than doing, I turn inward for self-reflection and find myself leaning more into my intuition, a much more accurate gauge of the quality of life than salary or title ever provided. I feel myself constantly dropping deeper into meditation and silence in order to hear what my 70-year-old self wants me to know. And I am learning to allow myself to be pulled outward more too. I still crave solitude but am also being called to participate more boldly in my life, to more frequently step out of my comfort zone, to speak up and out with greater authenticity and to write and share more of my self with less fear. At this age I’m much less concerned about what someone else thinks of or says about me than on how my words, behavior, response and energy make us both feel.
Compassion is a great gift of age. The years seem to have expanded my capacity for forgiveness, for myself as well as others. Living this long requires making some mistakes, miscues and complete misses along the way, which offer lessons to deeper understanding of the foibles inherent in our human lives. I’m still a cranky curmudgeon, but I’m working on that. However, if I decide to not put the effort into trying to change that or anything else in my life, then I am satisfied learning to simply accept, maybe even celebrate, those things. It is, after all, our quirks, irks and even berserks that make us supremely unique and who we truly are.
In these, and many more ways, I am getting to know myself better and more fully. And no one knows me better than I do. I’ve spent every day of the last 70 years with myself, so I know myself pretty well. But I also know within each of us there is always more to discover. And isn’t that why we are here? Isn’t that why we experience the gift of age – to go, to grow and to glow?
So, bring on the rest of this life! The time I have left may be short, but its depth is unlimited. My pace may be slower, but that just means I no longer have to stop to smell the roses. I now smell them all along the path.