Sunday, April 21, 2013

If not now, when?

When I was a young woman my parents seemed unchangeable in their 50s and beyond.  Except for their changing physical appearance and capacity, they were who they were, at least to my mind. They played bridge, attended cocktail parties, watched the evening news, kept a tidy house, travelled. I didn't observe any new hobbies or interests or ways of thinking. My perception was that people stayed the same once they got older - that you only got to grow and change until you were a certain age.

I'll be 65 this year. Since my husband and I quit working three years ago, we've taken 27 trips ranging in duration from 3 days to 75. We wrote and published a book Return to Viet Nam: One Veteran's Journey of Healing.  I took 140 hours of training and became a certified mediator practitioner. I've been called "adventuresome" by a nephew, and my kids are impressed that I can snorkel. A few of them have met us for a few days at a travel destination. Another few of them are surprised by how active we are. Do they have the same ideas about "my parents the older people" as I did?  Maybe. I don't think being able to snorkel at 65 is that big a deal. You just put on your mask, put your face in the water, and you're there.

When I go to my water aerobics class three mornings a week at the community center, most of my classmates are women my age or older. They chat about kids and grandkids and recipes. I feel like a total outsider in those conversations.  I think that might be why I so enjoyed our two months as snowbirds at an RV resort in Tucson. I was around people more like me.

Here's the deal. I'll be 65 whether I stay at home or whether I travel. Whether I watch TV all day or whether I write a book. Whether I putter in the house or take water aerobics.  I know 65 is a just a number, but it's also a chronological age. I hurt my back a couple of years ago and am still affected by that injury. I'm healthy now but have no guarantees that it will continue. So I have choices as to how I'm going to live.

I was at an exercise class in Tucson earlier this year. About 60 55-plus folks were setting up their mats on the floor of a multipurpose room. A woman spoke to a newcomer, a man, who was on the sidelines. He said, "I don't know whether I can do this." The woman said, "We're older. We all hurt somewhere. Come on over and try this exercise." And the man did.

My sister Alyx will be 58 this year. She has had a colorful life. In two weeks she will be pinned as a nurse in Anchorage after two years of rigorous, exhausting training. Here's her blog entry about that event. My husband and I will be there, as my mother would say, "with bells on".

If not now, when? "Come on over and try."

17 comments:

#1Nana said...

So true! My mother went back to college in her 60's and got first her AA, then a BA, and was working on her masters. I think it's important to be active, but active looks different for different people. My dad, at 87, isn't physically very active (he stills gets around, but he isn't hiking in the mountains) but he stays sharp mentally. I don't think we all need to travel, or go to school, but we do need to resist the urge to stay put in bed or in front of the tv.

Ms Sparrow said...

It seems like the older I get, the more things I become interested in.
Even though I can't afford to travel or take classes, there are so many activities and opportunities for enrichment that I will never be at a loss for things to do.

Teri said...

Great ATTITUDE!

Arkansas Patti said...

You really set the bar high for retirement goals. You usually make me feel like a slacker. Keep up the great work.

Barb said...

To quote my kids college speak..Yes, this, exactly!

rosaria williams said...

You have developed new skills and are not afraid to keep learning. You're the poster child for a new senior class.

Retired English Teacher said...

I loved so much of what you had to say here. I think you really hit the ball on the head when you said, " I'll be 65 whether I stay at home or whether I..." (fill in the rest of the sentence. You are so right, Linda! Thankfully, we all have choices. Now, what are we going to do with those choices?

I understand what you are saying about the aerobics class. I felt the same way when I went to one here at our "Y" recently. I never went back. I found the Pilates class and walked the track, but I didn't want to stand in the water and listen to people talk about their grandkids. Works for them. That is good. Not for me.

If not now, when? We mustn't forget that.

Olga said...

I will also be 65 this year. I generally have a positive attitude about life and about being active into the future. I was somewhat surprised (and disappointed) that my husband thought retirement meant an end to our travels. Even in Florida, he is not as into exploring the region as much as I am. When he joins me in an interest, I am happy. But if he doesn't choose to join me, it doesn't stop me.

MerCyn said...

You are a great retirement role model. Keep moving, keep busy, try new things. And travel. My hub will be retiring next year and we are planning to spend the first two years traveling. A lot.

DJan said...

You spring chicken, you! I'm seventy now and can look back at 65 and think what it was like then. I'm more fit and more active right now than I was when I quit my job at 65. But it's different for everyone; there is no "right" way to age. I think you're doing all the right things for you, Linda: useful, engaged, learning. :-)

Linda Reeder said...

I look at you and think, "Now that's busy! I'm not that busy." But then I decided I'm pretty darn busy after all, and mostly doing what I want to do. So I'm good for now. Keep on inspiring us, Linda.

Perpetua said...

Absolutely, Linda. How we choose to be active, engaged and happy in retirement differs from person to person. What matters is that we find what works for us and that you have definitely done. :-)

Out on the prairie said...

I find a few who are my age with similar energy. Too many people put off things that later can be the best of times in ones life.I started yesterday working with friends to clean up around a park and then fished the rest of the day.when it started raining and a bit of hail it was fun to see who stayed around.

Deb Shucka said...

I am so inspired by your spirit of adventure and your determination to live every day that's given to you as fully as you can. Are you really going to look for work? What about mediation? Not enough to keep you happily occupied? I'm envious of Kenya coming up and look forward to hearing about every bit of it.

CathyS said...

You go girl. You are the inspiration about what growing older can be about. I had a delightful afternoon last fall with my aunt (95) and her cousin (80). We talked about the hardest part about growing older was being around old people-not age, but mentality. Here's the blog I wrote:
http://www.rlmnow.com/worst-aging-hanging-people-2/

Murr Brewster said...

What constitutes old, in my mind, keeps getting older and older. I'm always shocked to discover that young people do not, in fact, consider me their peers. Whuh? I'm almost positive my folks were older when they were the age I am now.

I don't have your wanderlust, but I'll be damned if I'll just park my fanny, either. I love the area around me. Just came off a 4000-ft elevation gain hike today. It was great, but I do admit my knees would like a little word with me.

Grandmother said...

You ask the best question: If not now, then when? This is not a dress rehearsal, it's the only life we have. Do what you'd like to do, go where you'd like to go, help where it's needed. It's a big world- be part of it!