Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (…the senescence is almost undetectable)

I turn 60 today, and I feel vaguely embarrassed about it, like I’ve somehow let myself go, like I’ve been bingeing on decades and wound up in this unappealing condition. Chances are, most of you haven’t crossed this border station yet, so you’d better listen up. Because if you play your cards right, it’s going to happen to you too.

Here’s what it feels like to turn 60: weird. On the one hand, you’re still going to the gym and to dinner parties. Sixty-year-olds still perform surgery on people who could choose other doctors. There’s no dithering yet—the senescence is almost undetectable.

But on the other hand, you have been on this Earth for a really, really long time. […] How can all of the things that happened since that photograph was taken have occurred in one lifetime? How can people walk around holding this much of the past inside them? How do they possibly add in another two or even three decades of experience? I’m topped up! I’m going to have to start erasing the larger files. Maybe I already have and don’t know it. […] But then it got real. One day a few weeks ago, I got old. It just suddenly happened, and there isn’t a sports car in the world I can buy to make it otherwise.  […]

There was a time when I could manage my cancer without having to understand myself as “disabled,” but at 60, that time has passed.

I sat down, and my bones settled so heavily around meand the relief was so immediatethat I knew I’d done the right thing. But I also knew that through that simple, necessary gesture, I had become old. […]

I’ve actually begun to feel a bit emotional and proud. Just by staying alive, I’ve witnessed a lot of life and a lot of history. I’ve done so many things in these six decades—I’ve survived some serious shit. In many of the ways that don’t involve the mortal coil, I’m stainless steel. And on the inside, I’m still me—probably more myself than ever…

—   Caitlin Flanagan, from “The Day I Got Old” (The Atlantic, November 14, 2021)

Comments

  1. intense and beautiful looking at aging and surviving everything thrown at you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew right away you weren’t talking about yurself becasue you are not older than me. As I seem to remember you thought I was really old! HAHA I’m 58 going on 108!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nick Jessett says:

    I’ve just read the full post. Truly inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful read, have fun out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! This little snippet has me hooked. Going to read the full piece now. Not 60 yet, but certainly feeling that time is quickening its step….

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Aging is the perfect example of emotional pinball – inside you think you’re somewhere between 35 and 45, and then you look in the mirror, or bend the wrong way,, or consider how old you were when watching the first moon walk…your criteria for old age morphs into thoughts you would have rejected years ago (“wow, she was only 75..”). I’m going to celebrate the fact that I’m still here and then put my head in the oven (kidding)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you, David. You’re my personal librarian, curating amazing new reads that I would not have noticed. To h*ll with copyright laws and phony threats… we support the authors by buying the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have the full article up on my screen. I am torn by this feeling of old at 60 (it is, after all, but two years away) but then, people who have lived through more than others have a different perspective. Thanks for sharing (yet again) some inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. wonderful writing from Caitlin. Although I have to admit to needing to look up what senescence meant…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I realized yesterday that I’m now 3 weeks beyond the exact age my mom was when she died. (Well, that’s classic old-New Englander-in-winter for ya — we LOOK for something to rejoice over!) I’d better go read her full article… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great article! I expect we all have our milestones on this journey into old age…. Letting go and acceptance become more important that acquiring or striving that’s for sure. That’s a gift 🎁

    Liked by 1 person

  12. She says it exactly like it is! off to read the full article

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Before I read the whole excerpt you gave us, my mind went right to Joni Mitchell—-After she wrote, “I’ve looked at Life from both sides now…” she was criticized–“what could you know about Life at 21!” And, she revealed that she’d had lived alot of life by then. What a story! How wonderful that she could share her “life” through her songs, her way of dealing with her pain and herself. So, what wonderful lives we can live!

    … I’ve looked at love from both sides now
    From give and take and still somehow
    It’s love’s illusions that I recall
    I really don’t know love
    Really don’t know love at all

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! this gave me goosebumps., read the whole story. Life happens to each one of us but sometimes a lot of life happens to some people. My dad died at 89 two yrs ago. I always used to wonder how did he walk every day with so much past inside him, with this heap of history, the pain, and sufferings of losing my brother(21 yrs old ) and my mom so early . We are from India he was a teenager when India got freedom from Britishers and Pakistan was made in 1947. He witnessed all the ugliness and massacre of Hindu Muslim riots during the partition. He was very high-spirited till his end. An inspiration to all of us every moment of every day.
    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story and always enriching my life with your writings.
    This again is a reminder for me that in spite of all the tragedies life is beautiful and worth living.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Being 60 years old is not a sentence. It is just a number, and you are not a number.

    Liked by 1 person

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