Today I start a series of posts on turning a year older. And I’ll be calling the series 60 going on 40.
Yes, I’ll be 60 in 18 weeks and I don’t feel it. In fact, I feel the same way I did in my late 30s. Even years later in my 40s and beyond, I was stuck feeling 38 inside.
And I am not alone. I’ve been reading about older women feeling young at heart—there’s an old song with that title—especially when they’re at the stage in their lives when they are liberated from worry and obligations but strong and independent enough to be still doing a lot of things on their own.
This is not a constant feeling, though. Pain and illness remind us of the real state of our bodies and the limits of physical activity. In this time of a pandemic, we are reminded of our vulnerabilities and the threat that a vicious virus could take us anytime. And when life’s problems seem mentally overwhelming, it’s so easy to just throw our hands up in metaphorical exhaustion and just crawl under the covers.
For now, though, as I prepare to leave middle age, I’m feeling 38 or 39 again, the age when I felt I could accomplish a lot more, and actually did. I have to tell myself that the best is yet to come, because when I do, my mind gets fired up thinking of the many exciting things to keep me inspiringly motivated and busy.
Soon, I will be like Margaret Renkl who is older than me by a few months and who wrote something that sounded awfully familiar a few days ago. The article and the comments it generated are worth reading. She writes:
The only trouble with being born in 1961 is that in 2021 you will turn 60, something I did last week. It’s very strange to persist in feeling 22, even as every mirror — and every storefront window and polished elevator door — reveals the truth. Sixty is the point at which people must admit they are no longer middle-aged.
Lately it’s been dawning on me that I would not want to have been born even one minute later than 1961, either. Last week I mentioned this new thought to a friend, and her response was immediate, as though she’d already had it herself: “Because we won’t have to live through the cataclysm?”
Well, no, not exactly. On the days when headlines are full, yet again, with firestorms and catastrophic flooding and biodiversity collapseand endless pandemic and a depressingly effective disinformation campaign to deny the climate emergency — on those days, yes. Absolutely yes. On those days I am glad to be 60 because it means I almost certainly won’t live to witness the cataclysm that is coming if humanity cannot change its ways in time. But that’s not the way I think on most days. On most days I am simply grateful for the 60 years I’ve had.
Reliving the happy moments of the past, as one psychological experiment showed, can make a person feel young again. I guess this is the logic behind high school reunions. In this day and age of instant messaging apps, keeping in touch with old friends is good for the mind and body, unless traumatic experiences dominate memories of the past.
I believe that our state of mind is what we should focus on, and that how we view our situation and the challenges we face matter immensely. Some call it positive psychology, others call it mindfulness. There’s this article written about the many research experiments conducted to determine the effect of a person’s mental health on his or her physical wellbeing. The experiments have their limitations but to dismiss them outright or be pessimistic about the results would be a step in the wrong direction.
So my promise to myself is that I will write at least three posts every week for the next 18 weeks. What about? I listed down some topics:
Being born Pisces, being a journalist, teaching, being a mom, being a wife, life in my city, childhood stories, teen stories, 20s 30s 40s 50s, friends, high school classmates, YouTube channels I watch, favorite writers, books I’ve read, book I want to read.
Will I stick to these topics? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see. ###