The headline of this column probably sounds a bit oxymoronic. We are used to hearing about things like, “The pains of aging,” or “The problems of aging.”
The joys of aging don’t get much attention — in fact, you may not even believe that they exist. The reason is that you’ve been programmed not to believe it by a messed up culture that worships youth and disdains age.
We are conditioned to think that lost youth equates to lost happiness and that the inevitable deterioration of our bodies and our energy and our appearance spells an equally inevitable deterioration to our fulfillment and well-being.
We live in a world where we are conned and manipulated — by everything from media to plastic surgery — into judging everyone, including ourselves, by the “youth standard.”
But it is the wrong measurement and the wrong conclusion. The fact is that what you have gained far exceeds what you have lost.
Don’t idolize youth. You know better. You’ve been there. And you know that the realities of youth tilt toward naiveté, uncertainty and foolishness. Most of us would not go back — not unless we could take what we have gained.
If you are about our age — 60s — you are now at the peak of your powers and the peak of your potential.
Think about it. You may have lost a step or two on the tennis court or added a few strokes on the golf course, but you have never, ever had more smarts, more experience, more contacts, more insights, more resources, more access, more awareness or more perspective than you do right now.
And we’ll bet you also have more of some less tangible things like savvy, discernment and simple appreciation for simple things.
The biggest joys of all are likely your family. Is there anything greater than grandparenting?
For every little bit you have lost physically, you have gained bundles mentally, socially, emotionally and probably spiritually. And who wouldn’t trade bits for bundles?
And even most of the bits you have lost are still at least partially recoverable if you choose to go after them. Most of us, if we put our minds to it, could be in better physical shape next year than we are now, or even than we were five or 10 years ago. You could have better relationships with those you love next year. You can use what you have learned and what you have become to move forward or, occasionally, to go backward to whatever you want to fix or rescue or improve. The cool thing about life is that it is rarely “too late.”
Your grandparents hoped to live long enough to see you born. You, on the other hand, can realistically hope to live long enough to see your grandchildren finish their education, marry, have children and find their places in the world. You can even help them do all of those things.
We have the advantage of being part of the biggest group ever to enter the final fourth. And there is strength and leverage in numbers. The whole world will be catering to our needs and wants and interests and ambitions.
You have far more control of your destiny now than you did in your first or second fourth — or even your third.
The bottom line is that you are better now than you have ever been, and you live in the best time there ever was to be who you are!
You have — though you may have never called it this before — the gift of age.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."