Sunday, April 17, 2011

Challenge #39: About Turning 65

In the April 2011 AARP Bulletin appears the article, "About Turning 65" written and submitted by Kathleen Canrins, of Palo Alto, California.  Her article is so right-on-the-mark that I feel it needs to be available in other venues besides a bulletin for seniors only.

Twenty years ago I would have been scared out of my pants knowing I'd be turning 65 in a couple of months, but, hey, I'm looking forward to the Medicare Milestone.  It's a trophy age, as Kathleen writes.....

"What could be great about being 65?  As good as those peak work years were, and childhood and young adult years, and the child-rearing decades, too, the time of life that begins traditionally at age 65 has them all beat.  Of course, having those other parts of life behind me has something to do with this.  A lot of have-to's are in the past, and I am freer than ever before to choose how I spend my time.  What shall I learn more about or become better at, or what new activity shall I try, I ask myself.  Where would I like to volunteer?  I sense a world of possibilities, many more than when I was 23 and starting my work life.

"Though I am not rich and have age-related physical problems that limit what I can do, though I still have responsibilities that take up much of my time, I know that I am the happiest I've ever been.  Key to this new state of being is that I find it impossible to dwell on what I don't have or can't change.  Perhaps some individuals are born with this attitude or developed it along the way, but I cannot imagine having reached this state earlier than 65.  Becoming a card-carrying member of the senior generation was a reality check.  I don't have time to waste on ways in which the glass is half empty.

"Instead, I pay attention to the good and the good within the bad.  I am not preoccupied with how I can make life turn out one way or another.  For the most part, it has already turned out.  I appreciate things I didn't notice earlier in my life--a stranger's smile, a driver who slows to allow me to change lanes.  The priorities that dictate how I spend my time are clear:  the people I love, the activities I enjoy and those that keep me healthy.

"Observing my children move along in their life paths does not make me long to relive mine.  For me, it's great to be on the other side of those extraordinarily rich parts of life, free from the demands that go along with them and free from 'what if' and 'if only' thinking."