What To Make Of Turning 75
Dear Nicholas, I know 75 may not seem old to someone who is, say, 91. Nonetheless, youth that I am, I do think this birthday today should be of resounding importance in my life. It’s three-quarters of a century, after all.
But it doesn’t feel like a big deal.
Is Turning 75 Any Different?
I know I’m closer to dying than I was at 18, but we’re all at risk of dying at any age. I don’t feel in greater danger. (Perhaps this is denial?)
What I do take hard is other people getting sick and dying–or moving away to be close to their grandchildren. No way to tell who’s going to drop out next. This is the painful part–this and the frightening close calls, the growing acquaintance with ER and OR and ICU.
Still I don’t feel older than I did at 18. (I do feel older than I did at 12.) I feel much the same way about crises and losses as I did long ago–except that the emotion is more direct and immediate and I now know that there’s no one correct way to respond or grieve–just be there.
Am I Retreating In Any Way?
I do fear I may not be doing as much to save the world as I might if I were younger. I never have done much about that. But now I feel that somewhere at the back of my mind is the idea that I’m not going to be around for all the disasters that threaten us. That shouldn’t let me off the hook to any degree, shouldn’t keep me from taking action, but I think maybe it does.
Having been exceptionally lucky with my physical health so far does protect me from feeling old. I am as strong as I have ever been. I am grateful for this. And I still cling to the mad fantasy of learning to surf.
An Instantaneous Change
One major health crisis could change all this in an instant. I do know that, intellectually at least. Having been sick for the past week (a case of gunk-in-the-lungs now almost over), I did have a glimmer of what a slowed-down life might be. For seven days, I couldn’t make myself focus, couldn’t force myself to do anything. My breath hummed like a distant ship’s horn. But Saturday I turned a corner toward health again and that awareness is already just a memory.
Sometimes I think that because I’ve been lucky so long it’s likely a building will fall on me. Just a matter of probabilities and odds, the only thing I ever found interesting in a math class. Who can stay lucky forever?
And Then There’s Watching The Golden Globes Last Night
Staggering to see so much young skin. I couldn’t help but notice. Moisturizer does not produce that effect. Fortunately I’ve come to feel that antiqued skin is the norm. The implausibly smooth look is a lovely aberration.
Have I Accomplished Enough?
Well, no. I’m still working on that. At the same time, in spite of my intentions, I’m feeling a bit less pressure or ambition. Only a little less. Still, it’s pleasant. I do see the potential.
At the same time, I am sharply aware that there is a limited number of books that I will finish in the time I have left. Right now two more are well along in the pipeline. I have a strong sense that when those are published, I will have answered as well as I can the calling I have long felt to write particular stories about life’s big mysteries.
After that, whatever I write will grow out of whimsy. I do have about 20 whimsical pages on a novel I wonder if I will finish. I hope so. And of course I would still love a smash-hit breakthrough major-motion-picture NY Times bestseller. (Check out most recent novel, the delightful My Life On Earth And Elsewhere!)
Anyway, I’m 75. A good solid number. Now to see what the year brings.
Feel free to send aging-well advice.
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Tags: aging-well advice, answered my calling, closer to dying, feel any older, getting sick and dying, lucky with my health, major health crisis, not going to be around, risk of dying, seem old, slowed down life, this birthday, wonder if I will finish