Today I am 60 years old. Age has never been a particularly big deal to me; I’ve never been reluctant to say my age (that is, provided I even remember how old I am). But I’ve historically had a “youngest” mentality. Perhaps that’s because I was the youngest of 3 in my family. In my early career, I was the youngest to do this or hold that position. Even when I start law school at 33, somehow I kept that youngest mentality. The first time I internalized that I was getting older was when I began my current job, and my boss turned out to be younger than my daughter (by a matter of days). And he was older than most of our co-workers.
Now I know that when one is 60, there’s no denying that youth is gone. Oh, I know the sayings that 60 is the new 40, and in some ways I believe it. I also think I’m mentally pretty young (some may say immature). But when one gets down to the reality of longevity, the fact remains that my life is 2/3 over – and that’s assuming that I follow in the footsteps of my mother. (I prefer Mom’s odds to Dad’s, who died at 64.) But my feelings aren’t sad or maudlin. Rather, I’m looking at having 1/3 of my life left in front of me – and again, if I’m blessed with my mother’s genes, 99% of that remaining time will be spent in good health. My struggle is what am I going to do with that very significant time? I don’t know the answer to that question.
For a lot of different reasons, I’ve come to Virginia to spend some significant, quality, quiet time by myself. One of the goals of my trip is to discern what my path might take, what might realistically be in store for me. I need to get in touch with myself, physically, spiritually, emotionally. I know I won’t divine all the answers while I’m here, but I might at least get an inkling. I do know I want to participate in something meaningful; some how, some way, I want to give more than lip service to the Charter for Compassion. But meaningful need not be grandiose. I’m not going to cure HIV/AIDS; I’m not going to solve poverty. But I do want to leave this world a better place than it would have been had I not lived.
My choice of timing here in Virginia isn’t a coincidence; there were a lot of contributing factors, personal, work-related, and yes, even weather-related. But March is also the time of year when my mother’s life came to an end. Indeed, I began this blog 4 years ago today, just two weeks before she died.
So I’m looking forward to my 60s and beyond. I’m looking forward to becoming wiser, kinder, gentler. After all, life is good.