I was walking the dog when I ran into Jan this morning as she was finishing her usual, hour-long walk. Jan is probably in her early to mid-eighties. Like many of my other neighbors, she walks each morning to stay healthy.
As I headed out the door after breakfast for a hike, I thought about Jan and all the people I know who are redefining aging on their own terms. Instead of listening to what the media tells us about who we should be or who we are at fifty, sixty, seventy, or beyond, we have the power to show the world who we really are.
Pioneers in a New Era of Aging
Aging today is different than it was a generation or two ago. We know more about aging, we tend to be healthier as we enter that last third of our lives, and we probably have much different expectations about how we want to live the years ahead. In a sense, we are like pioneers in a new era of aging.
When I think about being a pioneer of aging, I realize how important it is to see others who have traveled where I am headed or who are finding new trails that I might want to follow. I have friends who have started businesses in their late fifties, sixties, and seventies or who are exploring new ways to take their careers in a different direction. I know other people who have published novels in their sixties or who have received recognition as poets after entering their seventies.
When I was still teaching, I had a student in his eighties who was finishing up one degree and considering entering another program for a second degree; and why not? One of my former neighbors worked at keeping up with technology (she loved to search current topics on the Internet every morning) until she passed on at ninety-eight. Who dares to say that reaching a certain age precludes us from living our best lives?
Inspiring Each Other
Because aging looks different today than it did in earlier generations, it is important for us to be around people of all ages who are figuring out how to live their lives to the fullest at any age. At the same time, I believe it is also important for those of us who are older to model all that aging can be for younger people who are afraid of getting older.
I suspect the biggest limits we will face are the ones we place on ourselves. Most days I find new inspiration around me to try new things and to move a bit more. I’m looking forward to continuing our pioneering journey together.