I’ve always thought 1954 was a good year. At least it was for me since that’s the year I was born, on Aug. 28. Which means I have just turned 60.
Now, I realize that in these parts at 60 I’m still just a young whipper-snapper to a lot of folks, no matter how many rings I have in my trunk. Or white whiskers in my beard. (Forget white in my hair, what’s not flesh-tone remains somewhat dark.)
But, to a lot of other folks I’ve become an old geezer. Curmudgeon I’ll go along with, and I’ll tolerate codger, but I’ve got a way to go before qualifying for geezer. And I’m not ready to put “old” in front of curmudgeon or geezer.
Despite my somewhat advanced years of upper-middle age, I really don’t feel as if I’m 60, or even near the senior years. (Junior maybe, even sophomore after being held back a couple of years.) Well, possible on some mornings I might feel it, but not that often.
Sometimes in my head I still feel as if I’m 20-something, with a lot of experience, memories and plenty of dreams. Lots of dreams, honestly, and while I realize many will remain in the ethereal world of thought, there still are plenty I intend to fulfill as I move into this new decade of life.
It’s a time to look ahead to more experiences and making more memories. There still are books to write and stories to tell. There are photographs to take, places to go and see, music to hear (although in my curmudgeonly mode I still prefer the good stuff to a lot of today’s music). There are things to do and foods to try. And even discounts when I can
I know people who are a little further into their 60th decade, and I’ve seen how much they seem to have changed for the better. They’ve discovered new things to do, have not let the burdens of life weigh them down and appear completely happy with the new experiences being in this age group has provided. I've known a few who seem to have made a 180-degree turn in their lives.
Sure, it’s not all sunshine and unicorns and free Bubble-Up, but it’s an age when you really have to grab the gusto every time you can (and find new clichés that haven’t come from old beer commercials).
I came along in the middle of the Baby Boom, a little late for the complete '60s experience but just right for the '70s -- the years of polyester, 8-tracks and disco. But I remember what it was like growing up in the '60s and seeing the changes occurring even if I didn't really understand them all at the time. Like so many, I watched those events unfold in glorious black and white, until 1969 (I think) when Dad got our first color TV. I came of age in the '70s, when there still were changes underway and transitions began that would lead us to today.
I find it hard to believe that movies and shows I really loved are more than 40 and 50 years old, and their youthful stars are in their 70s and 80s, although I'll always picture them as they were. I watched Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid a few days ago, and I remembered seeing it a few times in the theater, only to have it dawn on me that that was about 45 years ago. That means a baby born then would be middle-aged now, and could even be a grandparent. Talk about making you stop and think.
One bit of wisdom I've learned in lo my many years is that time seems to speed up the older you get. Holidays and birthdays seem to come faster than before, children tend to grow faster and mature more quickly, the world appears to pick up speed, and changes occur much more frequently than they should. The key, I've learned (and I'm still learning) is do your best to keep up with them. You don't have to like it all, you don't have to follow it all, and most of all don't let it get you down. It'd be nice if we could manipulate this timey-wimey thing, but we can't, so we make the best of it and enjoy the ride.
An oft-repeated lesson, too, is never stop learning. You're never too old to learn something new; even if you can't grasp it, you can at least learn about it. Learning keeps you sharp, gives you satisfaction, and if you're inclined to it lets you show off sometimes.
As others have said, when I was a teen-ager, I thought 60 was a thousand years away and anyone 60 was awfully old. I've learned better (see, keep learning) and 60 is nowhere near being old, and looking ahead from this perspective, the 70s don't look particularly old either.
So, let the sixth decade of my life begin. This should be fun.