I’ve just been hired by God to give aging some good PR. It seems spin doctors are promoting the idea that age is a downer, but I feel like my own aging from 40 to 60 was an achievement. In those two decades I earned my PhD in me. Nothing other than living through it could have prepared me for the obstacle course of unexpected events. Now my resilience is my superpower. Really, from the perspective of my client, Divine Providence, if we weren’t meant to get old, we’d be dead by now. Longevity is the gift of a well-managed system. Man up buttercup.
The passage of aging from 40 to 60 is a master class in change management. Everything in my life changed and even though I felt like I was at the peak of my powers as a woman, there were times I felt out of control and out of tune with myself. Yet I persisted. My maturity played out as an advantage. My experience became a well of resources. My insight had greater value because it was tested. I learned to study the wreckage of my failures and forgive myself. I was able to trust myself, leverage the courage of my convictions, believe in my intuition, and promote my self-confidence. My mistakes were gargantuan, but so were my successes.
The most personal experience of aging from 40 to 60 was the evolution of this meat sock I call home. Just as I was getting good at navigating my knowledge and perspective, my body started doing puberty in reverse. The paramount midlife hurdle is to appreciate Nature’s design. Our physical prowess declines just as our brains go Black Diamond. We become connoisseurs of subtlety, like the difference between sex and intimacy. We hit lifetime milestones and re-evaluate ourselves. Relationships quake, ambitions morph, limitations settle in, our capacity for understanding expands, and we lose our tolerance for bullshit. Post fertility, our nesting instincts adapt, we have options for renewed investment in ourselves, encore careers, bucket lists and passion planning. The horizon is nearer, and we see our way more clearly.
Now I’m 65 and as I embark on the next life passage, from my 60s to my 80s, I’m looking back and appreciating the enormous changes I’ve been through, and I’m not alone. Millions of us have watched our careers peak and fade. I lost my spouse, got grey hair, downsized, relocated to a more age-friendly community, and learned to live alone. I’m a different person now than I was before all that. My goals have become more metaphysical, I’m less stressed by my mistakes, and I find pleasure through my own initiative. What I have at 65 that I didn’t have when I was younger is the willingness to embrace an uncertain future. Now I know it was uncertain all along, but age has given me the skills and strength to ride the waves, and my change muscles are bulging.