Age of Impermanence
Life is impermanent. It is a truth that we are able to bear throughout most of our lives. A child is born and we look forward with anticipation as it learns to walk, talk, and become independent. The years of schooling shape and develop the child’s character, values, likes and dislikes, until finally it becomes the independent adult we always dreamed of. They may leave the country in pursuit of their dreams. They may even marry and have children of their own. But in all of this, we find joy. But where does that leave us? The aging parent who is left behind to deal with this impermanent life that we all live.
I turned 60 this year, so the idea of impermanence is naturally on my mind. We’ve all perhaps heard that, “60 is the new 40”. But is this true, or are we just kidding ourselves? Whether we spend hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars trying to look younger, the fact remains, it’s just cover. Don’t get me wrong, I colour my hair, workout, and eat right, all in an attempt to slow down the hands of time. And I will probably continue to do so. It pleases me that people think I look younger than my age. But nothing will change the fact that I’m 60, not 40.
In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, Buffy Sainte-Marie said, “I don’t feel any different than I felt in my 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. That’s another crock that we get handed, that as every year of your life goes by, your life deteriorates.” At 74 Buffy Sainte-Marie is still touring, feels strong, and dare I say it, looks amazing.
It’s funny, at 30 I felt like half my life was over. Now here I am at 60 wondering, what’s next? I didn’t always feel that way. As my 60th birthday approached, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. No large party for me where everyone makes jokes about getting old. In fact, the morning of my birthday, I considered staying in bed. Maybe if my birthday wasn’t acknowledged, I could be 59 for the rest of my life. Just kidding.
I did wonder though, if being 60 meant looking forward to years of decline, like Sainte-Marie said. Then I decided to stop wasting my time worrying about it, and just live it. Why waste time fighting the inevitable? I’d rather spend my time making plans.
It seems that in every part of my life I did things late. I learned to swim in my 20s. I became a parent in my 30s. I took piano lessons in my 40s. Then horseback riding lessons in my 50s. Why should my 60s be any different? I can do anything I want to do if I set my mind to it. It is my hope that my 60s will bring book tours, travel adventures to write about, and overcome some of my lifelong fears once and for all.
I have good health. I have life experience, and dare I say, a certain amount of wisdom. I have money to travel. My mind is still sharp. I can still create. I have a writing career that I can continue with until the end of my days. I have wonderful friends and family that I’d do anything for. I enjoy being with young people who challenge how I think about the world. And I love to learn new things. How lucky is that? Yes, life is impermanent, so I’m going to appreciate what I have and make the most of it. So that when my time comes, I can say, “I did it all, and I did it my way.”