It’s a phrase often tossed around at “big” birthdays: 40 is the new 30, and 60 is the new 40 – just to make the birthday girl feel good, I think. All those ages can be marvelous in different ways. And I’m here to testify that for sure, 60 is not the new 40. For example, people who are 40 right now may not know who those adorable boys at the top of the page were. Sixty-somethings remember where we were when the boys shook up the world on the Ed Sullivan show in 1963.
Sixty (I’m 62) is not the new forty, and I really don’t want it to be. There are some very cool, and some not-so-cool things about being 60+ but wishing I was 40 isn’t one of them. Life moves forward, and new realities take the stage.
At 40 I was just opening my own private psychotherapy practice – happy and anxious and working my butt off.
When we were 40, both Sandy’s and my parents were healthy and vigorous. We’d do trips and holidays together. Now both our dads are gone, and both our mothers are lost in the fog of dementia. Many of our cohorts have lost both parents.
At 40, both Sandy and I were focused on having successful careers: striving, competing, “networking”, and making the bills. Sandy worked 60-hour weeks routinely. Now I’m fortunate to be retired and Sandy, while still working hard, is starting to look at a graceful exit plan from his business.
There’s a subtle – but inevitable – physical change for most of us at 60: more of my conversations with like-aged friends involve medical conditions, injuries, or diminishment of our physical selves. Since I broke my wrist last August, I’ve developed arthritis and it’s not going away.
But the way I’ve approached my 60’s means I’ve stopped trying to “be” what I was not: the life of the party, a great athlete, an accomplished musician (I can sing now), or model-beautiful. With 60 has come less striving/straining and more acceptance/peace. I don’t have to keep looking ahead to “be”, I feel like I “am”.
And all the good stuff still accrues too: we’re wiser, more deeply and quietly in love, and more honest in character. We have time to be activists if we choose, or at least idealists again. More time to be creative, more assertive, more appreciative of a beautiful day.
At 62, I feel alive and happy and grateful. I don’t feel 40, and that’s OK.
Stay fabulous, revel in whatever age you are, and enjoy every sandwich, xo
Some lovely pieces, for any age, to browse through: