On the Cusp
One week from my sixtieth birthday, I thought that I’d share some words of wisdom that come from having lived so long.
Just kidding. Getting older is no formula for gaining wisdom; I have seen too many people in their sixties or older who are no more wiser than a misguided youth, than the misguided youth they were many moons ago.
If people talk about gaining wisdom or some such thing, it is because subjectively they might feel that they are wiser in some way. Ask their friends if reaching the big “six oh” has changed them…
A few days ago, when it first hit me that I would soon be hitting 60, it came as a nasty shock. “Oh my God”, I thought, trying to shake off the feeling. “This is awful. Sixty.”
There is a negative connotation to the word: “Sixty”: it’s like “cancer” or “rejection”. I’m not sure why this is so: isn’t 60 the new 50?
But, funnily, the following day the feeling had all but disappeared. I felt that reaching 60 was some sort of personal accomplishment, which is just as silly.
I would suspect that there are as many ways to react to this “milestone” as there are people to experience it. In third-world countries, where people age so much faster than in Canada, and where poverty means that you’ll be working in some capacity until you can no longer stand up, I imagine that reaching 60 is no big deal, although it is believed that older people in these countries are more appreciated and respected than in the youth-oriented society we live in.
Anyway, 60 is hardly considered “senior” anymore.
No, I can’t really claim to any more wisdom today (hey, I’m not there yet! I mean next week) than I possessed in my 50’s. No light has popped up in my head; anyway, I believe that evolution is always gradual – unlike for some Zen Buddhists who believe in ‘instant Enlightenment’. I’m not more mellow than I used to be, although my wife claims that we fight a lot less than we used to, which is true.
People love the cliches: “it’s just a number” and “you’re only as old as you think”. I know that some days I feel 70. After an hour or so of meditation in the morning, my joints ache when I stand up. Looking forward to an enjoyable afternoon now means spending some free time reading.