My birthday is less than a week away. It is one of those birthdays that end with ZERO that we tend to think of as milestones. Some friends are coming from out-of-state to help me usher in the new decade.
I’m really happy about reaching this milestone. (Sixty.) There is a freedom that I did not feel when turning forty or fifty. I’ve lived enough years, endured enough challenges and followed this path long enough that I don’t wish to pretend to be something I’m not.
When you’re younger, there is pressure to try to fool people into thinking you are younger than you are. Mid-life crises are about exactly that. Of course the classic is the middle aged man who buys a sports car — red, convertible, fast — so he can be seen as hot, sexy and vital. And the woman who gets new boobs installed to prove that the gravity of aging does not apply to her globes.
Each passing year seems to be a year closer to inevitable decay and devaluation. There is pressure to hide wrinkles and cellulite, cover gray hair and look younger than your years. Youth, sexiness and vigor trump all else. Being active, busy and multitasking are the signs of youth and a successful middle-age.
Turning sixty makes all that seem so petty. No mid-life crisis here. I’m not saying that now that I’m turning sixty I don’t care how I look. I still want to look nice — for me. But I am not efforting to look however other people might want me to look in order to be “desirable.”
Appearance is really only a minor factor in the new found freedom of becoming sixty. The real freedom is in expressing myself without fear of judgment. If people don’t agree with me — it doesn’t matter. I’m not interested in making them wrong and I’m not interested in defending a stance to prove to others that I am right, either. I just feel like following what feels right to me — no religious dogma, no pressure to be “appropriately demure.” (Though people who have known me for years will attest to the fact that I’ve never been a deferential shrinking-violet type. I’ve always been pretty outspoken and direct.)
I don’t know if it is because we feel we have less time remaining on the planet (and therefore less time to waste), but I find myself unwilling to do that subtle, slow manipulation of others to get what I want. It takes too long, feels dishonest and produces unpredictable results. I’ll still be polite. I’ll say what I want and if people say no, that’s fine too. There is simple elegance in receiving a “yes” or a “no.” It allows me to move on to the next step with clarity.
Sixty feels like it’s full of potential. It’s funny, but I actually feel stronger and more powerful than I did at fifty or forty. There is more magic and energy available for me to wield. My ability to focus on what is important is sharper. (Though I do get distracted by shiny objects at times.) If we pay attention, “The Force” gets stronger with age. Our powers to intend something into being grow. Our ability to manifest a greater reality, richer and more full is more immediate.
It doesn’t feel right to say one who is turning sixty is middle-aged (unless, of course you intend to live to 120). I guess I’ll have to think of a new term. I never was comfortable with the word “Crone” though I like the idea of being a wise woman. When I think of a Crone, I think of a scary old witch. “Geezer” doesn’t really work for me, either. I’m not quite formal enough to be a “Grande Dame” and I’m not casual enough to be an “Old Bag.”
Oh well, I suppose I should stop trying to define myself in such ways since I believe definition often misses the true essence of something. It creates a convenient pigeon hole for the observer, but the totality of someone cannot possibly fit in a pigeon hole.
Copyright © 2009 by Victoria Young