Nor 70 the new 50 but people are still trying to sell that to us.
If you pay too much attention to media chatter, you can easily be convinced that old age is a nice, smooth continuation of midlife. If you do it right – that is.
Drink gallons of protein liquid, spend three hours a day at the gym, drop hundreds of dollars on brain games, stand on one leg while washing dishes and you too can climb Mt. Everest.
More: if that 91-year-old can finish a marathon, so can you. Or start a business; everyone's an entrepreneur these days even if they don't know what Six Sigma is. Oh, and if you pump yourself full of enough Botox, no one will know you're a day over 40.
Of course, all this is twaddle, hogwash and most of all, wishful thinking. Old age has been stigmatized for so long that the young people who write all that advice for old people refuse to believe there isn't something they can do to prevent it and they want us to be their guinea pigs.
Perhaps, they must think, if they goad us hard enough and long enough into continuing to live – or try to - as we did 20 or 30 years ago, they will learn how they can live forever.
When my professional life came to an end 11 years ago, nothing changed. I had already begun this blog so I just segued from 15-hour days (including the four-hour commute) to – oh, 10- to 12-hour days doing all that was needed to churn out these pages.
That sentence makes it sound like this is chore. It is not. I enjoy this as much as most of the paying jobs I had over more than four decades and because none of them were nine-to-five jobs, for these past 11 years, long hours have been nothing different from what I had always done.
As healthy as I am (and I do not take that lightly), I'm slowing down. These days I notice the hiccups in my brain, the nanoseconds it takes sometimes to get to the next thought when I'm writing. That's new.
Nor is my focus as pointed as it once was. My fingers can be flying across the keyboard as they always have translating thoughts and ideas in my head onto the page, when I suddenly “come to” realizing I've spent three or four minutes wondering if there might be a better synonym for one of the words I just typed.
By then I've lost my train of thought and I have finally learned that I might as well go do something else for awhile before I can get back to it.
I am more easily distracted these days and distraction is, of course, the enemy of focus and concentration. All of this is due to age – I'm 74 now, compared to 63 when I started Time Goes By.
It takes longer for me to clean the house nowadays and it also takes longer to think. For quite awhile, I had been spending more hours to get the same amount of work done on the blog, always scrambling for time, always behind, always dropping something I wanted to do which is why, a few weeks ago, I cut back publishing days to four instead of six.
After about two months on this new schedule, I almost feel reborn. The biggest difference is time, time to read at my leisure, time to write without rushing, time to choose topics more carefully.
Most of all, there is time to sit quietly with myself; time to let thoughts drift by while I watch them come and go; time to think about if and how all this information about ageing I've been collecting for 20 years applies to me; time to reflect on some of the big life questions.
While I wasn't looking, my life has become simpler. I take care of my daily needs – food, exercise, sleep, laundry, etc. I pursue my curiosity about how we age, enjoy writing something about that in these pages and I have returned to some other intellectual interests I had let slide for too long.
Although I miss living in a big city, New York specifically, I have arranged the details of my home so that it pleases my sensibilities to be here. Aside from New York, I've lost interest in travel but for a drive to the Oregon coast now and then.
Small as it sounds, a big pleasure during the season is shopping the weekly farmers' market and how agreeable it is each week having a short visit with some of the vendors who have become a certain kind of friend over our mutual enjoyment of good food.
Compared to the hustle and bustle of my 40 mid-years, it is a quiet life and from the outside it undoubtedly looks boring. But it is far from that on the inside and I like my life – particularly now that I have created this new breathing space.
I don't see how old age could possibly be intended as an extension of midlife. Even though, as I described above, my thoughts are a little slower, my mind is exploding with them.
I am gaining insights into myself, my life, relationships, beliefs and more, with a depth and detail I never had when I was younger – nourishing my soul you might say. I'm peeling away layers that for a long time kept me from even trying to understand some of the events and people in my life.
Except that I arranged for the time, I don't know why all this activity is happening right now but surely it is more important than skydiving at my age or trying to prove how young I can appear to be so that others might be more comfortable with the idea of ageing.
Old age is an excellent time to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Don't let anyone pressure you out of it.