In your most private moments, what do you think about aging? Does advancing seniority fill you with distaste, or with relief? Apprehension or contentment? Are you grinning or grimacing?
What image of aging first pops into your mind’s eye? More memory-making with the grandkids? More midnight shuffles to the bathroom? A lengthening shelf of unpronounceable pills? A closet-full of business attire dry-cleaned for schlepping to Goodwill?
Have you dreams deferred or nagging irritations? A Danube cruise? Elusive words on the tip of your tongue? Performing with the Community Players? Being nibbled to death by ducks?
Like most of my peers, I’m aware the aging glass is both half-empty and half-full. We have to take the sour with the sweet. But it’s my impression that we tend to over-emphasize seniority’s downsides. If that’s correct, this reflexive pessimism exacts a high price. Not only can it impair our mental and emotional health. It can also neglect and undervalue seniority’s rich offsetting opportunities, passions and pleasures. This blog is dedicated to helping rebalance the scales. I want to make the case for a positive approach to growing old.
July kept us sheltering in place in our Bay Area Retirement Community. Early in the month, we were quarantined in our apartment for one week as a precaution after off-campus medical appointments. Let me share with you my notes on mid-summer activities, readings and reflections.
Before getting started, I’d like to warmly acknowledge Nancy Swing’s creative contribution of photos in this and prior Agile Aging posts. Her fresh visualizations of familiar subjects never fail to enhance text and tone. Shabash!
One welcome reminder from this pandemic lockdown is that we don’t always have to be busy. Especially for retirees, and even more so for quarantiners, it’s okay just to be still. Jumping up from the breakfast table to scroll through overnight emails may be a habit. But it’s not an obligation. This morning, almost guiltily, I ease into a rocking chair and tune in to the birdsong. A full combo, with riffs and refrains. Are they here every day? Have I not been paying attention?
Coffee tastes so much better consumed aromatic and hot. A different experience entirely from a cooling cup neglected on my home-office desk. The warm flow down the hatch is key to the pleasure.
Russell Sunshine worked for 40 years in 40 countries as an international development lawyer and independent policy advisor to foreign governments. Now retired back in America, he’s writing non-fiction and practicing agile aging on California’s Central Coast. Russell’s memoir, Far & Away: True Tales from an International Life, is available on Amazon. Click Here