Newcomers tell me how they marvel at the seeming “agelessness” of valley, and how the limitless outlets for physical activity helps delay, prevent, and even manage many costly, chronic illnesses. And while physical activity is critical to our wellbeing, it’s also been said that creativity sustains a degree of timelessness in our journey through life because creative people tend to live longer and experience far more active lives.
Emmanuel Kant wrote his Anthropology, the Metaphysics of Ethics and Strife of the Faculties, at age seventy-five. Paradise, perhaps the most widely known of Tintoretto’s works, a canvas measuring an astounding 80 X 25 feet was completed when he was seventy-four. Verdi composed Othello in his mid-seventies and the Ave Maria at age eighty-six. At seventy-eight, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck completed his classic work, The Natural History of the Invertebrates, about which Charles Darwin remarked, “Lamarck was the first man whose conclusions on the subject excited much attention.” Oliver Wendell Holmes was seventy-eight when he wrote Over the Teacups.
And while that’s all very interesting, most of us who can see our 65th birthday in the rear-view mirror no longer climb 14ers during the summer nor ski 70 days a year: we’re not as creative as Oliver Wendell Holmes or as erudite as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, so what about us? To answer that I’d like to share a bit of wisdom about aging a dear friend and fraternity brother once shared with me.
Once a person hits that magical 65th marker it’s time to enjoy the money and other resources they have earned. There’s no rule that says you must keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. It’s also time to stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren. Don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. If you’ve taken care of them, taught them well and provided an education, food, shelter, and support, their financial welfare is now their responsibility.
This also isn’t a good time for new investments, even if they appear fool-proof. This is a time to enjoy peace of mind without worrying about your ROI. It’s also a time to buy the finest things you can afford for your significant other. The goal is to enjoy what you’ve worked for with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and all the money in the world will not provide comfort – enjoy what you have together today.
This is also a great time in life to travel if you’re able, but don’t take guilt trips. Everyone’s life is filled with both good and bad memories, so, the important thing is the present. Don’t allow the past to drag you down or the future to frighten you. Enjoy life today. And regardless of your age, keep love alive. Love your partner, your life, your family, and your neighbor; remember love is what really makes the world “go round.”
Having shared my friend’s advice, I’ll close this commentary with a whimsical look at how differently we view age as we move through the years. When we’re under 10 we’re so excited about getting older that we think about it in fractions, “How old are you?” We answer, “Four and a half.” But as teenagers we begin to amp it up – “How old are you?” “I’m gonna be 16,” you reply – you may have only been 13 at the time, but hey, you knew you were gonna be 16 someday! Then after leaving our teens, we “become 21;” even the word “become” sounds authoritative and sanctioned.
As we pass 21 things begin to change –we “turn” 30, then we’re “pushing” 40: and before long we “reach” 50. As the years tally, we “make it” to 60 and things get serious when we “hit” 70, then we “get into” our 80s but when that 90thbirthday rolls around, for some reason we start looking backwards… “I was just 89” you say somewhat bewildered. And finally, when/if we make it to 100, we become kids all over again and tell people, “I’m 100 and a half.”
Ah yes, age is a state of mind.
Quote of the day: “It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.”—Jules Renard
Note: And a very special thanks to John Spoelker for his inspirational emails 🙂