Be Responsible… Then Go Out and Play!
I feel great that I am still learning from friends. A recent talk with one of my more responsible friends could apply to most of us over 60, so please allow me to share our exchange with you.
It’s Too Powerful to Stop
At this stage of our lives, we are old enough to think about the finality of life and embrace it. We will die eventually, but in the meantime, we have responsibilities to fulfill, challenges to face and new roads to travel.
Magical Cures Can Be a Waste
I know you will try them, and I won’t say I told you so. From an early age, we have been sold on every form of fountain of youth including magical cures, pills, potions and lotions.
If it makes you feel good, indulge, but there is no magic. Be thankful for every day of good health and don’t waste time turning back the clock. It doesn’t move in that direction.
Prepare for Aging: Financially, Physically, Socially, Emotionally and Spiritually
Any one of those five categories can seem daunting, but preparing for one of them makes taking on the next easier.
There is no day like today to look hard at your finances. Treat your money with respect. With any luck, you will need it for a while.
Get that physical exam, take your doctor’s advice about exercise and diet, find or continue a physical activity that you enjoy. Be health-literate, ask direct questions of your doctor. Learn what you can about any new condition that finds its way to your doorstep.
Avoid junk food – most of the time – and eat the good stuff. Those health problems will eventually come, but give them a run for their money.
Be good to your friends. I expect some of you, like me, at this point in our lives have lost one or two. If a dear friend is having a bad time, plan a silly birthday outing, share joys together, support one another in exercise or play together.
The Emotional Factor
Let go of the grudges, anger, would-haves, should-haves. If you need help with this, see a professional counselor or a spiritual guide.
Speaking of the spiritual, you may feel a need for a deeper spiritual experience, to spend time in prayer or meditation. Doing so may help make sense of your journey and offer a world of inner exploration.
Prepare for the End of Your Life
If we don’t do this, others will have to handle our assets and our end-of-life decisions. While we’re at it, let’s clean up what we no longer need or use. Again, if we don’t do it, someone else must – and really, isn’t that our responsibility?
Manage Life on Your Own When You Can, Accept Help Graciously When You Must
Even if it’s for a brief, temporary period, be willing to ask a trusted professional, friend or relative for their thoughts when difficult decisions come up. Be willing to accept or reach out if it will help you through a tough period.
Having done the above, what’s left?
Live an Enjoyable and Fulfilling Life
Finish strong. You’ve made the tough decisions, prepared this stage of your life in every way you can. You’ve done all the responsible things, now go do what your heart yearns to do.
You may want to explore literature in a deeper way – I’m looking at Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey. You may want to do some form of volunteer work in a field you always wanted to tackle, but didn’t.
You could help build something, literally or figuratively that will be there when you are not. You may want to just go have fun – dance, play, run, travel, laugh with friends and family. Go. Do it. You deserve it.
Are you still learning from the friends in your life? Do you have other thoughts on crossing off those responsibilities and moving on to what’s next? Please share in the comments below!
Mary Lou Harris is a proponent of active living, community volunteerism and inquisitive travel. After a post age 60 retirement from a career in public service, she expanded those interests to include ultra-trail running, hiking and extended-stay travel. She can be contacted through her website or on Twitter at @stillarunner.