Our generation is the first to look “aging” directly in the eye and say “no way”! Many of us feel as much as 15 years younger than we really are. The fallacy of youth could be draining of us of joy and spirit. Personally, I’m all for flattering lighting and photo touching for headshots. I’m squeamish about Botox and surgeries though…however as someone once famous said “whatever trips your trigger just tickles me to death!”.
I like the answer my husband gave me…”You’re old when you think you’re old.” That would explain why my 95 year-old aunt who just lost her roommate of 60 years “really likes living along”. She said during a recent phone call that she can do whatever, whenever she wants. She’s my idea of how aging well brings wisdom, simplicity, love and a sharing spirit into better focus. My aunt has always been young at heart and giving of self. It’s in her genes. It’s who she is. All of her extended family looks at her as the monarch of our family. She shares her words of wisdom…gems like “a slice of fresh bread with peanut butter and coffee is my idea of heaven!” or “everyone learns in their own way so try not to push to your way.” or “life is only temporary…it’ll all change in a second.” But, she is from “ greatest generation” who lived through the depression and WWII. She is our generation’s role model….at least for me she is.
The question “when are we old?” is posed because in the past, old was defined as over sixty. Many of us who are over sixty don’t agree with that definition. It restricts us and puts us in a boring box to be shelved and forgotten. We baby boomers have always been very outspoken about not being ignored. Lately though the rumblings have been more about being “left behind”. Who’s fault it that? It’s not technology or millennials or anything else. It’s a personal choice some of us make to not keep up and try new ideas and methods. “It’s always been done this way” is an easy out. That attitude DOES make you old.
Why is age relevant? Our society puts lots of value on youth and very little on maturity. Our relationship with aging carries over into every facet of life - especially business. Consider the established marketing model of focusing on the 18-40 year old consumer. In the past, this model worked because that age group had the spending power and used it. Today, over 70% of disposal income in this country is controlled by baby boomers. Yet, marketers continue to insult us, belittle us, use our music for dumbed-down commercials and wonder why sales are stagnating.
What’s my point? I think it’s time we owned our age and gave it new meaning. That’s what we’ve done most of our lives…reinvent ourselves and the world around us. What would happen if our generation broke out and declared pride in our experience and time on this planet? How could we make a difference if we willingly shared our life wisdom? How can we effectively engage others in this conversation? Why should they listen? What’s in it for all us? How can we secure a positive place in history?
As usual, I’ll leave you with more questions than answers. I don’t have the answers. I have ideas and the first one is: to be proud of my age. There is real value in my experiences because making the same stupid mistakes if a total waste of energy. Make new mistakes and own those as well. That’s the way we learn.
What do you think? What choices are you making about the aging process? Let me know your thoughts and I’ll post them. Let’s make this happen together!