With improved health and life expectancy, your middle-age could go on for decades.
Not that long ago, people were considered diminished (or heading that way) by age sixty, but with better health and longevity, our understanding of aging is changing. Now, 60-year-olds are starting over. 70-year-olds are finding another gear. 80-year-olds are sublime thinkers, levitating over earthbound drama. And then there’s my Mom, who I’ve told you about. At 91, she’s still truckin’. Well, not literally, you guys. But she’s curious and thoughtful and as active as her creaky old bones will let her.
And she’s not even that unique anymore.
If you think about youth as the first fifty years of your life, and very old age as a time of extreme diminution, there’s a lengthy middle. That period may last as long as it takes to raise kids to adulthood. Mom’s last kid left home forty years ago.
What are you going to do with all that time?
Olders (a term my friend Ashton Applewhite uses) don’t look like beautiful kids anymore, but we’re starting to get over that and appreciate our talents, gifts, strengths, and expertise.
One of those strengths is that we feel less bound by rules and convention. We played the games all these years, but now we don’t have to. As much. Or if we do, we do it because it serves our purposes. We’re so tough and awesome.
Old age is changing. Do you sense that? The fences are weathered and falling down. We can run free. Sometimes we don’t really understand how good we have it, because mortality is a bitch. But to focus on the positive, you almost have a second adulthood available to you. What are you going to do with it?