The year of living agerously

There's nothing magic about the number 60. We attribute significance to numbers that end in a zero only because we use a base-10 numbering system. I can flash all the fingers on my hand six times to show it. I do like the fact that 60 is five dozen. I imagine the ancient Babylonians would have dug that.

Not that very many of them would have made it to five dozen years. I'm lucky to live in 21st century North America.

It's not like I turned 60 and suddenly was old. But somehow, 60 has a psychological weight that none of the previous zero years has had. I can't remember 10. At 20 I was in a haze, somewhere between work and university. At 30, I wondered how I was going to tell my mother that I was going to keep playing in a rock band. At 40, I moved from Boston to the other coast and another country. By 50, I was just starting to get a good handle on Vancouver, and it would take a few years more before I really hit my stride here (Vancouver is a tough nut to crack, at least when you're a somewhat older "new kid"). But overall, my 50s have been the best decade ever.

Now what can I make of my 60s?

So far, my body seems not to know that 60 isn't some magical turning point. I have been very fortunately healthy for most of my life, but ever since the beginning of this year, I have felt pain in various and sundry parts of me. It's uncanny how it started only days after my birthday. My job has me sitting down way too much, and we know now that sitting is really bad for you. I do get up as much as possible, and I walk a lot, but my right leg especially has been giving me trouble. There are times when I'm driving that the pain shoots from my hip right into my foot. I'm learning pain-management techniques because I have to.

Both knees have their good and bad times. I often feel pain in my shoulders and arms. I've finally started to realize that I can't haul quite as much as I once could, or if I can, I will pay for it later. I've started to add glucosamine sulfate to my daily regime. It never helped my elbow a while back, because that was a strained ligament, but it seems to be helping now. That's good news, but also bad news, because it means that at least some of that pain is from inflammation. And you know what joint inflammation is called.

Yep, me and Wayne Gretzky. I think maybe he's earned his osteoarthritis a bit more than I have.

There are other occasional system failures, but for the most part nothing has stopped me from being active. I suck at exercise, but I'm good at staying in motion in other ways. I can still tend my garden, although not for as long at a time. I've lugged plenty of equipment around, although more carefully than I once would have.

In some ways, I'm more active than I ever have been. I have two bands. I sing in a choir. I just finished my fourth volunteer gig of the year, and I want to get more involved in this last one. I'm less of a dilettante than I once was and passionate about and more focused on things I'm really interested in—music, cooking and food, fashion, politics. And despite being far past both my sexual prime and my sexual attractiveness, if anything I think about sex more than ever.

Nudge nudge.

In many ways, I feel stronger than I ever have. The young often feel invulnerable because life seems to go on forever. But life for young people can also be confusing and painful and even full of fear. When you're my age, much less can touch you. I know that I won't live forever. I am not afraid.

Time for some of that bucket list stuff that I've been putting off? Sweetie and I went to Italy this past spring, and I think we're going to try to travel a bit more if we can afford to. A passage to India, finally? First skydive, maybe? A bungie jump? Isolation tank? I am seriously looking forward to retirement, not to settle into a rocking chair but rather to do more things of my own choosing.

Age has its privileges. I got my first senior benefit just last night. Sweetie and I went with her sister and her sister's wife to the Richmond Night Market. It was our first time at this crazy thing modelled on the crowded, lively night markets of places like Hong Kong. For them, "senior" is 60 or older. We got to jump the long queue and get in for free! Jealous?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. This post is lovely. My arthritis started at 40, but otherwise things haven't all fallen apart. We'll see how it goes.