When we are younger, our birthdays are milestones for largely superficial reasons. Maybe we look forward to turning 21 so that we can, officially, go out drinking with our friends. Perhaps we fear turning 30… or 40… or 50 because of the new wrinkles that each decade brings.
When we reach our 60s, things start to change. Yes, we still worry about our aging bodies, although our focus shifts from what others think of us to whether we will be fit enough to do everything we want to do in the decades ahead.
No, for the most part, we do not worry about superficial things on our 60th birthday. Instead, we begin to grapple with the “big” questions of finding our purpose in life, maintaining our social connections and leaving a legacy.
These questions do not appear all at once. Like dark smoke gathering in a room, they glide around us until, seemingly too late, they consume us.
With so many changes happening in our bodies, it’s natural to wonder, “What’s the point of it all?” “Why, when society places such a high value on youth, do we grow old?” “Why did evolution leave us with the potential to live for decades after we can no longer have children?” In other words…
The sad truth is that each of us feels like we need to answer these questions alone. This is what is so powerful about communities like Sixty and Me. They give us an opportunity to share our experiences and show each other that we are not alone.
It’s clear to me that older people have an important role to play in society. We are the holders of wisdom. We are the hard-earned experience that balances youthful recklessness. We are the silent oak in the storm.
Ok, maybe that seems a little dramatic. But, on a more practical level, there are so many things that we can do to make the world a better place. We can share our wisdom as mentors, teachers and grandparents. We can start businesses. We can explore our passions. We can find our true selves and share them with the world.
Let’s get a conversation started. Do you agree that the search for meaning is one of the biggest challenges that we face as we get older? Why or why not? What specific activities have you found that help you to find a sense of meaning in the world? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.