60th Birthday Wisdom (I Wish)

Today is my 60th birthday.  It feels like a bigger birthday than the other birthdays with a 0 on the end.  I guess it is, since it is my biggest number yet for a birthday!  Somehow 60 just feels older.  Perhaps it is because 60 is the start of old age.  I can no longer claim to be middle-aged.  But I don’t really feel any older than I did 10 or even 20 years ago.

I feel like the world looks at me differently as I age.  I am shorter than I used to be and sometimes I feel less likely to be seen – to be noticed in a good way.  My concerns are easier for the world to dismiss.  “OK Boomer” means that young people see me as irrelevant.  When I bring up aches and pains to the doctor, it is easier for him to say “Well, you are getting older.” I changed doctors a few years ago because I felt my doctor wasn’t taking my concerns seriously.  Fortunately my aches and pains are very minor and I work to maintain my good health.

As I get older, I find it is more important to keep moving.  If I get my steps in every day, my arthritis doesn’t bother me as much.  I try not to stay seated for too long at a time.  Recently I added a set of stretches every night so I don’t sit in the recliner all evening without moving.  Moving relates to other areas of my life.  If I remain open to new experiences, I am less likely to get caught up in my own selfishness.

One of the problems, for me as I get older, is difficulty letting go of ideas.  I can think “I need to go to the grocery store” and then see I have plenty of food for a few more days.  But I still go through the whole day thinking “I need to go to the grocery store.”  Once an idea gets in my head, it doesn’t want to leave.  Or I start calling  a person by the wrong name and it takes me a very long time to correct that name in my head.  Learning new things regularly helps me combat this.

As I celebrate my 60th birthday, I wish that I had words of wisdom or insights for aging.  But I don’t really.  I keep plugging along one day at a time, searching for ways to be useful to God.  My life continues to change but the change comes slowly, one day at a time.  I think I continue to grow as a Christian.  I hope I am more tolerant, more patient, able to express my love better than I did when I was younger.

My 60th birthday isn’t really a big deal.  It is just a day – with a number – a big number!  But so many other people have reached this birthday before me.  They witness how to live as I get older.  They remind me that life isn’t over, and I am not old, just because there is a certain number of years next to my name.

So, for all of us who are aging, I want to share the “Prayer of an Ageing Woman,” attributed to a 17th century nun.

Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older, and will one day be old.  Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.  Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.  Keep my mind from the recital of endless details – give me wings to come to the point.

I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains.  But seal my lips on my own aches and pains – they are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.  Help me to endure them with patience.  

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.  Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet.  I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.  

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.  And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.