I'm Not Pretending to Be 45 Anymore!
OMG – I’m what?
This week, I had a milestone birthday, and in accordance with all the stereotypes, I played pickle ball for the first time.
I’d been told it cost $6.00 to play. When I went to the local gymnasium, I was charged $7.00. I only had $6.00 and no debit card. As I was trying to negotiate coming back later with the missing $1.00, my friend asked the gatekeeper why the rate had changed. And then I was finally asked this question “How old are you?”
When I told her my age, she apologized profusely saying that if you were over 50 years old, you were charged one dollar less - $6.00.
She thought I was under 50.
I turned 65 this week!?!? (I’m still in shock about that.)
So, what does age mean? I was super proud that I was seen as under 50 years old and considered knocking 10 years off my age forever more, like some people I know do. Or, just never, ever, mentioning my age and having people not know, and therefore not put me in a box of who they think I “should” be at this age.
Which doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own age biases.
When I come across news of a 65-year-old being involved in an accident, a reflexive thought crosses my mind, "That's old!" But then, a pause follows, as I realize, "Hold on a second, that's my age!"
It begs the question: how am I defining 'old'? How are you defining old?
Am I envisioning someone frail, struggling with a walker to cross the street, holding up traffic, stooped over? And who has etched these images in my mind? This struggling elder, certainly isn’t me, nor anyone that I know who’s my age.
I think that’s because the healthy, 55-75 age bracket, the 3rd act, is unacknowledged in our culture.
It’s a sort of 'no woman's land'. I guess we were expected to die before this time, years ago, but now, many of us are in good health, still working, still spending, still learning Chat GPT…..
Why are we invisible?
Why are we being encouraged to sit back and rest or to spend all our time looking young?
One thing that I learned years ago, is the notion of “flow” or optimal happiness – described by psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. He observed that flow doesn’t occur much when we’re at leisure. Flow happens most often, when you’re “working”. That doesn’t mean in a paid job necessarily. Working means using your skill to achieve something that is challenging.
Flow requires a balance of skill and challenge. And when you’re in a flow state you feel like the activity is coming through you, you lose all sense of time, you are fully present. You feel optimally happy, a sense of accomplishment, contentedness.
Many people didn’t experience flow in their paid work or professions. So, isn’t the third act the time that you can?
Why aren’t we being encouraged to find flow in our 3rd act?
This period is, in fact, a pivotal stage of development, a time to focus on becoming who we were always meant to be - embracing your purpose, shedding the layers of programming, and connecting with the depths of your soul – the truth of who you are.
I refuse to let society's narrow definition of age confine me.
I’m not pretending I’m 45 anymore.
Yes I’ll do all the things to stay In good health and I’ll also recognize that now is the time to use my heard-earned wisdom.
We all have the power to redefine what 55-75, the 3rd act, means.
As I stand at the juncture of what society defines as “old”, as a senior citizen, I choose to view it as a continuation of a vibrant journey, where I define my own life – and don’t accept what anyone else tells me it “should” be.
It's a period to amplify our voices, to contribute our experiences, and to inspire those who come after us.
It’s time to drop our assigned role and be our unique soul.
That’s what 65 years old, and going forward is all about for me.
That’s how I can respect all those that I’ve loved and lost who didn’t make it to this threshold.
Like Brenda. Like Greg. Like Gord.
This is for you.
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