My wife and I were born in 1955 at the peak of the Baby Boom generation. It was the year Rock and Roll went viral, Elvis Presley was king, Disneyland opened, they cured polio, and Rosa Parks took that inimitable seat in the front of the bus. It was a great year to be born and has been a great ride.
We were part of that forever young generation. For a while, we said you should never trust anyone over 30. But that posture becomes a little awkward when you turn 30. So, as all of us aged, we started redefining what it meant to be young. 30 became the new 20, 40 became the new 30. We even tried to declare 50 as the new 30, but no one bought it. We fought to maintain the illusion that we were still young and hip and immortal. Even now as conversations about retirement are frequent among our friends, we are trying to recast the image of what that will mean.
So as Margaret and I turn sixty this year, although it sounds wrong and feels quite surreal, I find myself ready to take small steps in telling myself the truth. Although I still feel like I am hip thirty-something, I am starting to embrace the little pieces of reality that interrupt my pleasant illusions.
I am ready to admit:
- The idea of staying up all night sounds like torture. Shoot, staying up past midnight doesn’t sound fun. Why would we even want to try?
- Going out for late-night pizza with friends at 11 pm sounds like a dumb idea unless I want a night of acid-reflux and bad sleep.
- Going to bed before 10 sounds like a great idea most days.
- Even basic exercise requires warming up. I can’t just pick up and do something strenuous without preparation unless I want to pay for it for a week.
- I love being with my grandson, but the idea of parenting a young child is exhausting.
- Sometimes I forget where I put things I was using just 3 minutes ago.
- I hate it when someone in the store calls me “sir.”
- My kids are the age I would like to think that I am. Which clearly means, I am not.
So, as surreal as it is to be turning sixty, it’s time to embrace reality for all that it holds. For all those of my generation who have spent most of the past three decades pretending we weren’t getting older, it’s time to own it. 60 is the new sixty.
But, sixty is not a bad thing. This is the decade of legacy. A decade for giving away the important lessons and insights to the amazing leaders who follow behind us. It is a decade that is bright and full of promise. Barring an unforeseen interruption, we have hopes and dreams and plans and adventures that stretch out way down the road for us. And, maybe, we have just enough wisdom to enjoy each day and all that it brings as it happens.