“The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom; at the cost of all you have, get understanding.” — Proverbs 4:7
I’m sixty years and one month today. I wanted to write about turning 60 a month ago, but just trying to wrap my mind around that particularly large number temporarily stifled my creativity. Also, my family kept me so busy during those bewildering days, I did not really have time to write. I thought about just letting the occasion pass — “I don’t need to comment or reflect on everything,” I told myself — but being silent is not my way. Sixty years of friends and family will attest to this fact!
I really had it in my mind I would not actually turn 60. It’s not that I believed I wouldn’t live to see it, but it was just something I could not envision. I suppose it’s the descriptive words our society uses to categorize us that I find especially troublesome. “Middle age” was difficult enough. Now I’m a “senior.” I guess I never pictured myself as a senior, but of course, no one does.
I chuckle now when I remember how down in the dumps I was when I turned 30. I
remember thinking how I had already accomplished all the big goals in life. I had my first job, gotten married, bought a house and had my first child. What else was there to look forward to? Such shallow thinking, but as my father-in-law used to say, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
When I turned 40, In many ways I believed it was time to start again. My youngest was in school. I thought it was time to have a career. Time’s a-wasting! It was when I really began to passionately write and create with an artistic flair.
I found the number “50” to be hard on the ears, too, but I remember feeling very grateful for my health. My very dear friend, Rena, who was the same age, was not very healthy and she died just months later. Perhaps because of Rena or because I was looking at a new decade, I clearly recall thinking, it’s time to make my mark. I felt my energy waning.
I’ve spent most of my career talking about and preserving memories. I advise others all the time to take photos, make scrapbooks, document events and journal feelings. We can never have this moment again so we must do all we can to remember it. Since the number one recipient of my advice has been me (I sometimes do take my own advice), I’ve run out of storage space for it all. The closets and attic cannot hold more photos. There’s no more shelf space for framed pictures. The drawers are tightly packed with scrapbooks, special cards and other memorabilia. My memory quilts are piled high on quilt racks and furniture.
As my home is bursting at the seams trying to contain all the tangible keepsakes, so too, is my brain. At 60 years old, it can no longer hold all the dates, names (oh especially the names!) and places that have taken up residence in the many nooks and crannies of my senior cerebrum. It’s both a blessing and a curse to have the joy of knowing so many and to have experienced so much, but then the frustration of not to being able to recall it all the moment I need it. Truthfully, it’s 99 percent a blessing and only one percent a curse. I would never trade all those memories just due to a shortage of storage space.
Age is not just a number. If it was, it would be easier to accept and explain. Sixty is a
relatively small number as numbers go. A 60-pound child is not very big and 60 inches is less than two yards. In the year 60 AD, Christianity was really just getting started and we’ve come so far since then. It’s been more than 60 minutes since I started writing this post and I’ve hardly been aware of the passing time.
Age is more of an attribute. With wine, it’s an indication of its rich flavor, but with milk, it might mean it’s time to be poured down the sink. An aged and cracked pavement needs to be replaced while an old, weathered home pleads for preservation. For people, age is an accomplishment. At 16, we are trusted with a driver’s license. At 18, we can vote. At 30, we are often still innocent of our impact on this earth, while at 60, we understand the broad spectrum of our value. That is, we all have something to offer, but we shouldn’t let it go to our heads.
Whether we are 21, 60 or 105, each day is a choice. We can wallow in self-pity or we can thank the Lord for the day ahead of us. We can let arthritis and poor eyesight consume our energy or we can move forward to do all we can to help others. We can hide our wrinkles with a frown or we can smile proudly, wearing them like a badge of honor. On all accounts, I choose the latter.