Yes, I’m getting up there. My kids are grown, and I can now get a senior bus pass (and yoga class discount!). I’m at a crossroads, of sorts. I could turn down the road that several of my baby-boomer friends have traveled (retirement, TV watching, boredom), or I could follow in the footsteps of our current crew of political favorites: Bernie, age 74; Hillary, age 68; Biden, age 73, and yes, Trump, age 70. Then there is Jill Stein of the Green Party, 66, Libertarian Gary Johnson, 63, and Darrell Castle, 68, of the Constitution Party (to name a few). Quite the role models!
How do these “senior” men and women push themselves so hard every day? Making speeches, traveling the country, opening themselves up to scrutiny, criticism, praise, and attack? How, at their “advanced” age, do they not only tolerate it, but seem to revel in it? They’re not in rocking chairs — they’re rockin’ it!
The reason I write about this now is because around the age of 60, some of my friends started acting like, well, oldsters. Now, I don’t want to be mean or judgmental, but there will be plenty of time to be old, and there will be plenty of time to be weak, incapacitated and depressed about aging (if we choose to, and perhaps even if we don’t choose, depending upon what life delivers).
I prefer to think of a Hillary who might be President for eight years, or a Biden who could conceivably run in the future, or a woman I know who just opened a yoga studio in her 60s, or my 74-year-old sister who recently started a business in Healing Touch and babysits (and chases after) her toddler grandchild, or my 76-year-old brother who skis and kayaks.
I’d rather emulate the 65-year-old woman I know who is dating a much younger man than the friend who gave up dating when she was 50, or the “old married couple” I know who spends every weekend hiking. I prefer to emulate B.K.S. Iyengar (who died in 2014 at the age of 95, still practicing yoga), or Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, the 70-something-year-old Kundalini yoga doyenne who can hold a challenging “Boat Pose” longer than some 30-year-olds in her classes (I’ve seen this happen!). I prefer to model myself after my husband, who at 64 does 350 push-ups after his run every single morning.
Folks are always talking about role models for our youths. But role models for the aging and aged may be even more important, because these are the people who show us that life can be lived fully at any age. It’s not all about physical stuff, either. Serving our country as President or Secretary of State, volunteering in a food pantry (as my mother did until her death at the age of 81), playing the violin until the age of 92, as another friend has. We’re here until we check out, so why not go for the full Monty?
I have very little patience for young people who look down upon older people or for older people who look down upon themselves. My role models may be “old” but they aren’t done living. Legitimate medical excuses aside, it’s a slippery slope when you start saying you “can’t” do something because of your age. Like, er, be President? How come some think 60 is too old to dance the Tango or stay up until midnight, when some others who are well past 60 think they can manage the whole U.S.A. and snag the most important, time-consuming, challenging, and stressful job in the world?
For me, the Presidency would indeed be a stretch, and I admit it’s too late to become a ballerina or Olympic gymnast. But after decades of writing for magazines and newspapers, my memoir was published when I turned 60. Folks, I’ve only just begun to write.
And I’m sure not done voting. I have the utmost respect for our younger statesmen (47-year-old Cory Booker, for one), but this election I will be thrilled to cast my vote for a … drum roll … senior citizen!
Earlier on Huff/Post50:
5 Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs Over 50