I might offer a few things here (as I am writing my third book about people -not just women over sixty- emerging into who they are meant to be): as a woman of 66, a very serious athlete, international adventure traveler and one who has battled the societal messaging of fear of aging, this book is a gift beyond gifts for ALL of us: This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite.
I loved your article. I hardly even began to truly come into my own until I wrote my first (triple prize winning) book at 58. Climbed Kilimanjaro at 60 and completely rewrote my entire life as an athlete. My age is nothing more than a series of signposts, and those signs of aging the price I pay for my memories. My god I love my wrinkles. The skin on my legs sags a bit. I could give less of a crap. Because I am supremely healthy- and as I age I drop the conceits of youth. As I age I set aside the insane, compulsive self-criticism about what you can I cannot possibly control: our wrinkling, aging bodies. I CAN control my health. I CAN control my attitudes. I CAN call bullshit on a society that despises aging and blames aging on us as though it were a disease for which we are guilty. That sells a lot of products and all it does is cause us undue angst. Over what we cannot control.
My god the stupidity of this. You and I and ALL of us will suffer the cost of time eventually. What we can do is celebrate every. Single. Moment we are given. Age confers upon us the grace to appreciate the fact that we bloody well woke up this morning. Many didn’t. You and I did. And by god we have the same 24 hours everyone else does.
I LOVE being 66, strong, vibrant, healthy, engaged, with a dollop of wisdom. I do not CARE any more about the external signs of aging and when someone says that I am young for my age I call them out for the ageism. Because I am youthful where it counts- my heart, soul, my curiosity. My body is aging. Thank god it is. Because I owe Mama her body body back. I will not yield my happiness to a youth-obsessed culture that is so terrified of wrinkles that it will spend all its treasure on plastic surgery, supplements and useless fixes to try to stop the one tsunami wave we cannot stop: TIME. For my part, what I want to do is learn how to surf at that top of that wave, screaming COWABUNGA at the top of my (aging but damned healthy lungs).
I have only recently truly come into a lot of these realizations, but they are precious. Precious because they are setting me free. Putting the bird back in my chest. Time I might have spent poring over my face I’d rather spend doing pullups in my bedroom doorway. Because that makes me strong. That gives me options.
I choose to make my final decades as brilliant as intense as possible. Leave the legacy I came here to leave. None of us can do that if we are forever consumed by our looks, trying to be thin and rich, neither of which will ultimately make us happy. The RX for joy: A superb group of friends, good food, good exercise (both designed for our unique bodies) and a purpose.
Beyond that, we don’t really need much, other than a wicked sense of humor with which to deal with those parts that turn grey, fall off, live in a cup at night or whatever insults the years may fling at us. Turn them into jokes, and you and I have the world by the tail.