Sixty Isn’t Old If. . . .

Twenty years ago I received a t-shirt that read, “Forty isn’t old, if you’re a tree.”  Now that I’m about to increase my age by half, I find myself remembering the shirt.  Do they print ones that say, “Sixty isn’t old, if you’re a tree”?  I don’t think so, because sixty is old if you’re a tree, or anything else, except for maybe granite boulders, supernovas, and other cosmic processes.  At least, that’s what I’m thinking at the moment.

I don’t usually worry about it.  I haven’t minded the aging process because I haven’t noticed, for the most part.  My health is pretty good.  I still have my teeth.  I do my best to keep up with nose hair.  But round numbers call attention to themselves, and there was certainly a time I regarded sixty as ancient.  I thought the college students I saw on TV during football games were old; now they look like children.

My older friends say I’m not old, but they’re the only ones who can say that, and their number is dwindling.  I’ve been on the other side of the national median age since I was thirty-seven.  In fact, since the average American male lives to be seventy-six, I rounded third base three years ago.

Of course, I hope to live longer than seventy-six, because the other alternative means I really am old now, with only sixteen years to go.  My sixty would be like seventy-six, if I died in my nineties, which is how I’d rather picture things.  Both grandparents on my father’s side managed to survive nine decades; I’m counting on their DNA.  My mother’s side of the family is less convenient in that respect.

In my head, I see myself as a twentyish young man, around the age when I was pastoring my first church, wearing nylon shirts and a full head of hair.  The problem is that I used to envision myself as younger than that, which means my fantasies are aging.  I am always slimmer in the dream version.  But then I see myself in an actual mirror, looking like some kind of pudgy troll, with splotches and hair everywhere.  I’ll probably die tomorrow from lard that clogs my arteries.

Who knows?  You get the idea.  I don’t know what to think, but a part of me keeps thinking about it.  The end is real and getting closer, the little cloud on the horizon, with darkness following behind.

I find myself making plans, getting ready for the upcoming phases.  I used to tell myself that I still had time.  There was time for more changes, losses, mistakes, and successes.  There was time to recover.  But now I’m starting to notice the clock doesn’t go on forever, and there won’t always be time.

This blog is one of the products.  I like to write; I like some kind of audience for what I write; and maybe a blog will serve that purpose.  Writing, for me, is a form of conversation, and I want to do it until I’m senile, at which point I can talk to myself.

At the same time, I also know the ridiculousness of plans.  I’ve lived three different lives in the course of the last twenty years, and a lot can happen in the next twenty.  Life is like that.  We’re thrown into the world, and it doesn’t stop once we land.  Curveballs and detours are regular events.  There was a day I longed for big changes; now I enjoy tranquility.  Does that mean I’m getting old?

Does it matter?  Is age important?  It matters in the sense that I’m always one day closer to dying.  But I also could die tomorrow.  So, perhaps it doesn’t matter and isn’t important at all.

As Descartes recommended, start with what you know.  I’m happier now than at any point since birth.  I don’t own anything, but that may be a positive.  I have a confidence that eluded me in my younger years.  I can make a case that life improves with age, possessing a peace of mind, today, that was beyond my grasp twenty years ago.  So, from that perspective, I should look forward to becoming a senior.  If life improves over the next twenty years, as it did during the last, my eighties will be a blast.  I’ll be partying till dawn, along with getting discounts at movies and grocery stores.

Then, again, who am I kidding?  I’ll probably need a walker.  Parties will consist of booze in my sippy cup.  The best practice, I think, is to take each day as it comes.  As I get older, there is increasingly less sense for getting ahead of myself.

What’s the hurry?  I spent a lot of my life hurrying to get places I could have got to quicker if I’d gone slower.  But that’s what happens when you’re running from things, and I spent a significant amount of my life running, without even knowing from what.  Sometimes it was my parents, sometimes it was my wives, and sometimes it was God.  Then a time came that I got tired and quit.  I realized I was running away from myself, and that would be never-ending.

Owning up to dishonesty and disloyalty is not fun.  The consequences were everything I anticipated, and more.  However, having survived, the future now carries a lot less angst.

I am who I am.  I own up to it all, and do so on a daily basis.  I no longer want to live any other way, because it leaves me free to enjoy what I have, for as long as it lasts, and what else can you do?  The cool part is, I know God agrees.

At least, that’s what I’m thinking tonight.

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About Bucky Dann

I teach religion, sociology, and psychology at Southwestern Community College in the Smoky Mountains. I have worked in the United Methodist ministry and in the substance abuse field. I possess a Masters of Divinity, a Masters of Philosophy, and a PhD in the sociology of knowledge.

2 Responses to “Sixty Isn’t Old If. . . .”

  1. I really liked this one! Lulul

  2. You have a great outlook on life in the “golden years” (whatever that means). But since I am 75, I look on you as a young’un.

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