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.
In mid-September, Nancy and I headed south to participate in my COVID-postponed 60th high-school class reunion. While in Southern California, we took the opportunity to visit the gravesite of my parents and to rendezvous with my nephew and Nancy’s long-ago friends. Driving down and back, we tried to follow the sensible-senior-travel guidelines proposed in last month’s post. Here are some mileposts along a nostalgic excursion reconnecting past to present and youth to age.
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