The bad news is, as we age it gets more difficult to wake up each morning with a reason for getting out of bed, never mind facing the day with energy and positivity. The acetaminophen you take for occasional soreness becomes hydrocodone for nagging aches and you call upon all your will power to stop short of oxycodone for the pain that just won’t go away. Most of your friends are on the wrong side of the grass and you really shouldn’t drive with that puckered retina in your right eye. You still have ‘sex,’ it’s the box you check on the form asking for Male or Female?
The good news is, we know how to deal with all of the above!
I’m not an Internet guru selling advice on how to age properly. Candidly speaking, I skip those web sites. Usually they’re corny, relying on tired bromides and trite generalities. When ‘them blues has got me’ I’d rather have a shot of tequila than chicken soup for my soul. I recognize and accept that sometimes I need help to re-assess, re-focus and face the bedrock truth of what lies ahead (it’s not a spot on the Olympic team!) We must face reality, which sometimes is not so pleasant, and focus on what is feasible and doable.
The secret is to have something to retire “to” rather than “from” when your timecard is pulled out of the rack. Too many retirees move from the corner office to a corner of the den and feel diminished by the loss of the props that shored up their self-esteem, the big time job, a top spot in the pecking order, the external “stuff” you accumulate as perks of the endless grind. For these men and women retirement is more of a punishment than reward for years of hard work. Lacking a purpose they’ll find themselves sitting on the porch yelling at the neighbors’ kids to get off the lawn.
It is not easy to embrace the person you are and become comfortable in your own skin. For sure, vanity is out when you’re bald, have a pot belly and look stupid trying on clothes at the Gap. But don’t shut down the chi and put your abilities in mothballs. Take a good honest look at paths to fulfillment that are not relentlessly tied to dubious achievement, as in driving yourself to outdo the other guy and feeling elated or depressed dependent on the applause from others.
I’ll spare you the ‘woo woo’ about putting less emphasis on “doing” and more on the pleasures of “being.” Most of us are not applying for the Swami position at the Siddha Yoga ashram. But what’s important is to honor yourself for the person you are. Senior citizen does not have to be a synonym for old person! Being old is a function of age; being senior is a subtext of experience and attitude. It depends on how you look at the term; seniors in high school or college, for example, are student leaders, the respected upperclassmen called upon to pass on their experience to the younger undergraduates. Use a cliché from the sports pages, the platitude about the aging athlete who lost a step but makes up for it with experience. It’s true in life as well.