On turning 65: not dead yet. I turned 65 this week. Wait, that’s impossible. I am a fresh-faced 23 year-old who just got her first real-world job in Boston. I’m a 39 year-old “freshman” in graduate school, learning the art and science of psychotherapy. I’m a 46 year-old bride to a brilliant, handsome man, still at my side.
The years have whooshed by quickly, just like my grandmother told me they would, and I scoffed. When you’re young, a summer is a lifetime, a year is incomprehensible. Age 65: that’s when you well and truly understand with profound truth that life is short.
So far, so good. I’m lucky (and have worked) to be physically fit. My health is excellent at 65, with just a touch of arthritis, failing vision for close-up, and a new yearning for afternoon naps. Not dead yet!
I live with gratitude for all the good fortune and grace I’ve enjoyed my whole life: to have been born to a working class family and never worried about food or lodging, not even one day. What a privilege! To have traveled and experienced strange/wonderful things. To have been in love many times, had heartbreak and soaring happiness. And finding just the right guy in midlife, one who makes turning 65 less shocking.
I used to think at age 65 one would have given up on frivolities, like hair, makeup, and stylish clothes. Ha! I have accepted but never loved my fuzzy hair. I just bought two new lipsticks and love to play with them. I adore fashion, though I’ve put it on the shelf during the pandemic. I will return!
I thought I’d look older by now. That sounds like an obnoxious brag, but with modern skincare and wellness, I see my peers also have a vital look. We aren’t any of us heading for frizzy silver perms or pink elastic pants. I’ve got all my own teeth. I can still do a shot of Tequila and dance. I look “my age” but like a healthy, spirited 65 year-old. It could be worse. 😊
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near. -Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress.
I first read Marvell’s poem when I was in my 20’s, unaware of time’s winged chariot. I thought time stretched out beyond the horizon. No such luxuries at age 65. The most profound realization growing older has brought: I’m in the 7th inning of my life (I miss baseball with a hot fire). I won’t be here forever – 20 more years if I am fortunate. The things I still burn to do – now is the time.
What I hope I have carried with me all my life, and all that remains, are love and knowledge. If anything survives us after we die, I believe it will be love and knowledge. So I keep as my goals: to give love and seek love. To keep learning, expanding, and welcoming the new. Maybe I have been wrong about something all these years. Teach me the truth!
Whatever your age – thanks for listening to a newly-minted senior citizen. Please keep living your authentic life, keep loving and learning, enjoy all the sandwiches, be excellent to each other.
Stay fabulous and safe, wash and wash and wash, xo
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Header image via the garden at our cottage, 2005.