Ageing is a privilege and having just had my sixtieth birthday has reinforced that fact for me
In Now We Are Six, the collection of poems for children by A. A. Milne the little boy, Christopher Robin, says:
‘But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever. So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever!’
And I think as I have just turned sixty, I’d say something similar.
I’m not sure that at sixty I’m as clever as clever, but I think wanting to be the age I’m at now at forever and ever is a sign of acceptance and contentment.
Yes, being sixty can seem old, though less so to those approaching or beyond this landmark birthday, than to those not yet twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty.
But I don’t have a problem with turning sixty––for one thing it sure beats the alternative. Having survived cancer in my forties, having my sixtieth birthday was definitely something to celebrate.
To me it’s not the new 40 or 50. It is 60––and there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t need to be dressed up as something else.
I don’t want to be 40 or 50 again––been there, done that.
For one thing, at 60, there’s retirement, I took it early after a thirty-six year career in primary school teaching, so I’m now two years in––and I can find nothing not to like about it. I miss the children, but not the endless politicking and paperwork. And I’m still working as a writer but, finally, I’m the boss of me.
And there’s my bus pass which allows me to travel anywhere in Scotland by bus free of charge––I was so excited to get that. Receiving it was the true mark of my long held ambition to officially be an old bag.
But mainly, there is now time – time to do what matters to me – to write more books – both for children and adults – where the ages of the characters are no barrier to having adventures, hopes and dreams – to spend time with the people I love, to take care of myself – and to just stand and stare.
It’s not an end but a beginning – as with any day, it’s the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m not much wiser or less prone to worry and anxiety than I was before. But reaching sixty has helped clarify what’s important. Our numbered days are not endless and there really is no time but the present. A new day is a present––a gift not to be taken for granted at any age.
Yes, I have to face up to the implications of approaching old age whenever and whatever that may be. I’m sure I’ll recognise it when, and if, it comes. But every age has its challenges and requirements to plan ahead. Sixty is no different.
And apart from when I look in the mirror, I really feel no different. Of course I’ve aged physically, but my six-year-old, sixteen-year-old, twenty-six and thirty-six-year-old selves along with their forty and fifty-year-old counterparts are all still there inside, all part of the me I am today. I’m happy with that.
And what advice would I give my 16 year-old self?
- Follow your dreams.
- Do what you love.
- Seek new experiences.
- Have no regrets.
- Be kind to yourself and everyone you meet.
- Do your small bit to make the world a better place.
And remember these 3 things
- You will be strong enough,
- You will be brave enough
- You will be good enough.
Here’s to getting older. How do you feel about big birthdays and about getting older?