The Advantages of Being 70 Plus
Yes, there are advantages. No, really.
As we made our way through our life, there were all sorts of things that we thought were important, imperative, rules that had to be followed, injunctions the breaking of which would lead to eternal unhappiness. We worried about pimples, our hair, our weight, the cute boy we had a crush on but seemed oblivious to our presence.
As we grew older the worries grew in number and weight. What if nobody asks me to the grad dance? What if that geeky, spotted kid with the thick glasses and braying laugh asks me? Should I have sex? What if I get pregnant? What am I going to do after grade 12? What if the university doesn’t accept my application? What if I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? What if I never grow up?
And did the worries cease once you became a working woman? Hah! Should I get my own apartment? Do I fit in with the rest of the people in the office? Do they like me? Am I doing a good job, or will I get fired? What can I do about the creepy boss who is so touchy-feely? How can I find a nice guy? Will I ever get married?
If our years between 12 and 70+ were properly misspent then at 70, most, if not all, of those worries will have dissipated like a mild mist when the sun rises. We had sex, or we didn’t; we became pregnant, or we didn’t; we found a job that we loved, or that we hated. When we were twenty, we worried about what others thought of us; by 70 we realize that they weren’t thinking of us at all.
“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator”. Confucius.
Most people at 70 plus are grateful. They are grateful that they wake up in the morning; they are grateful for the friends who are still living; they are grateful that they have a good reason to not have to join protest movements; they are grateful that young relatives are willing to do tech repairs for them and they are not expected to figure it out themselves.
When they are 70 plus nobody criticizes their choice in clothes or tells them to get a hair cut or a perm. After 70, people pick YOU up, and you get to sit in the front seat without having to yell “shotgun”. People don’t try to change your political views, pressure you to upgrade your education, or learn a new hobby. Everyone is super complimentary about any artwork that you have produced (even if you believe they are being just a tad patronizing, praise is always more welcome than criticism).
Visitors come and go after a reasonable amount of time, and your grandkids pick up all their toys and take them all with them. Expectations (our own and those of others) dimmish and are replaced by astonishment and awe. “My god, she’s 75 and she can out hike us all!” “80 and she still volunteers at the Food Bank”. “Can you believe? She’s 90 and still driving herself and her friends to Church on Sundays.”
No, best to remember the observation of Frances Bacon: “I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”