Feb 3, 2011

Inescapably Sexagenarian

This week I turn 60.  I haven't thought about it much... actually not at all until the last few days. It certainly isn't "bothering" me... well, at least it wasn't until the recent spate of emails, cards, and comments with various geriatric themes... all meant, I think, in good humor.  But I now feel a need to say something about this milestone... I mean, it's just the kind of thing that belongs in a journal, isn't it?.. a report on the "state of the sexagenarian self" that belongs in the permanent record? Perhaps it will give some future descendant a little insight into old crazy Thom from back in the early 21st century. Or maybe someone will stumble across this post and it might be the reason they decide to pause for a few moments, put down their latest electronic distraction device, and ponder their own existence for a while. That would make me smile.

For what it's worth, I don't feel 60. Many years ago I came across a thought... a question really... that I've carried with me ever since: If you didn't know your age, and you didn't know how you physically appear to others, how old would you say you are? In other words, how old do you feel? Don't answer too quick... think about it a while. My current response to this question is 42 (which, coincidentally, we all know is also the answer to the ultimate question of life). I genuinely feel like I'm 20 years younger than I actually am.

This 60 year old body is doing quite well, thank you, with no chronic aches or pains (knock on wood... fingers crossed). I do have some hypertension and a higher than ideal cholesterol level that need to be chemically managed, but while these issues can be life-threatening they don't typically effect the way you feel. And I honestly feel great.  If I have weaker muscles, less flexibility, or less endurance than an earlier time, I believe it has more to do with my lack of physical activity and exercise than it has to do with age. For most of my life, I've kept my weight under control too. And finally, my genes are pretty darn good -- both my Mom and Dad are still around and going strong. Just imagine how they feel... to have a kid that's 60!

So having that particular mix of good genes, good fortune, and a measure of good self-control, I think I'm in pretty good shape physically. Of course, another way to look at this... maybe the realistic way... is that it's all downhill from here. The ravages of time will inevitably take hold and this is as good as it gets. In that case, damn the torpedoes... full speed ahead.

And how about the other part of my human duality... the mind? Here again, I don't think my mind feels or acts like it's 60 years old. I enjoy intellectual pursuits and make an ongoing study of various topics in social, scientific, and political realms. I'd like to think I still have an open mind... one that seeks to understand all sides of an issue before forming an opinion.... willing to listen. In my humble opinion, old codgers sometimes suffer from brain calcification (hardening of the mind), and I actively work to keep that from happening to me.

I've had the good fortune to inherit my Dad's (and a long line of his ancestor's) sense of humor. I love looking for and finding humor anywhere I can find it... to twist words for humorous effect... to make others smile or laugh with puns or ridiculous stories... to stay as much as possible on the light side of life. And my memory is still quite good despite some noticable "extra effort" needed at times to recall some facts or events.

One thing I am loosing is some of that "filter" that kept me "in check" during certain social situations. In the past, a lot of effort went into "fitting in" with the group... the way they think, what they say, how they dress. But the older I get the less I care what others think. Increasingly I say whats on my mind and let the cards fall where they may. I have less fear of putting the real me out there and having "them" deal with it.. take it or leave it. As far as I'm concerned, this as one of the positive effects of aging. It's nice to just be me.

In the past few days I've pondered some about all those years I've been a part of.  I wondered if I've done my best in my relationships with others?..  in my marriage to Dar?.. in raising my kids?.. in my career?.. in living life to the fullest? Certainly there are things I might strive to do better... if there was another chance. But there isn't another chance. And I think that's the lesson. Whether it's your first year or last or any in between... you've only one opportunity to make it what it will be. There are no do-overs.

Trying to touch my toes, but still about 6 inches away...

Beyond Branson; Pondering Future Travel

This past Tuesday, we moved from Branson to a very nice Corps of Engineer’s Park on Wappapello Lake.  We’re in the Redman Creek CG. This fac...