I mean, I’m grateful to be 62. I’m so very fortunate to be healthy, secure, and to have people in my life whom I love and who love me back. It’s all a big enormous miracle, actually. But – wow – 62. That’s beyond being able to tell myself I’m not truly getting older yet. I am getting older. Right now. My god, I could start taking Social Security benefits! That is NOT young.
I still have the message my mom left for me two years ago when I turned 60: “Happy birthday. It’s the big six-oh, I know, but just remember, one day you’ll be 80, and 60 will seem like an age for sissies. Enjoy 60. It’s a good age to be.”
Yes. I believe you, Mom. I do. But still I cannot f-ing believe that I’m 62! For one thing, I’m not done trying to prove myself, which I sorely feel that I failed to do at 30, or 40, or 50. Would everybody just wait a goddamn minute and give me a chance to catch up? I feel like my whole life boils down to this sentiment: “But… but… wait!”
But I do have wisdom that has been years in the making. And the core of it is this: Go after the thing that you want. Go after it. What in the hell are you waiting for? The only thing that will happen if you don’t, is that you won’t get the thing that you want and you will get older while you sit on your hands thinking wistful thoughts about it. In that mode, you are building nothing but regret, which is far worse than failure.
Second in my small bag of wisdom, but equally important – value yourself, and always – always, seek to enjoy. Sure, you have to work to keep yourself and those for whom you’re responsible fed, clothed, and safe. But the work and the responsibility must be balanced with pleasure – whatever brings you energy and joy. If you always operate under the principle that every dollar you could earn is a dollar you should earn; if you do not honor yourself by taking every opportunity you possibly can for fun, rejuvenation, beauty, creativity, discovery, feeling strong, laughter, and comfort… you are letting your life slip away between your fingers. Why spend your life staring at your hands, at the ebbing sand, saying “But wait! Wait!”
At this age, a positive attitude is a matter of courage and fierce determination. Laura Carstensen, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity has that in abundance. Listen to her TED Talk on how older adults have an edge on happiness. Then go and get your own edge. Before it’s too late.