By what measurement are you suddenly old, Mary Lynne?
I am invariably disheartened by l language such as this which tends to reinforce the horrible idea that an age determines attitude, or that a number defines us. I write about this a lot, which is why your title caught my eye.
There’s nothing old about fifty but for what we ascribe to that number. I’d love to be only fifty again. However at 67, I don’t have time. I leave for my body building gym in five minutes and have a brand new trainer hired tomorrow, as well as brand new hiking trails laid out to restart my workout campaign after two months in quarantine. As soon as Mongolia opens her borders I have a return trip already paid for and many more countries to ride, hike, swim, kayak, run, cycle and explore. I’ve got three bikes in boxes that need to be put back together so that I can hit the local trails.
Like you, I am an equestrienne, a very serious one. I didn’t even really throw my heart into that — after a lifetime of riding-until after sixty. AFTER sixty. I’ve had my back broken and my shoulder stomped and my leg kicked. I just bounce right back up and keep right on going. That is an attitude, not an age.
What is finite is time, which is true. Our energy, enthusiasm, and joy for life are NOT finite unless we drink the Koolaid that it’s all downhill from here.
I climbed Kilimanjaro at sixty. Mt. Kenya at 65. I am no natural athlete. Just determined. Focused, full of humor. I have no time for age bigotry, which can and does affect far too many of us. Nearly all my closest friends are extreme high achievers, all well past sixty in most cases, all scuba divers and runners and pilots and riders like I am. We are not scared of or in denial of our ages. We simply are fully in life. In most cases we trade the treasure we might have spent chasing youthful skin for experiences that give us laugh lines.
Decrepitude comes of making bad decisions about our diet, exercise, and personal care, but that’s true at any age. What’s expensive about aging is our attitudes about it, because that costs us life. Time. Joy.
What you choose to do with your next fifty is up to you. For my money, though, I’d look hard at how I couch aging and challenge those assumptions if they threaten to rob you of your joy. Your mom was right. Grab life by the horns and hang on tight.