Sunday, March 24, 2013

Milestone

          If you live as long as I have you encounter many milestones.  Some of them are universal – we all hit them – and some are personal.  The big universals are things like attaining voting age – 21 back in the day and 18 now – attaining drinking age – varies by state in the U. S. of A – and eventually becoming a legal member of the Senior Citizen club.  I will be 65 in a few hours and I find my reaction to this major milestone to be rather curious.
          It used to be “retirement” age.  Unhappily the current economic crisis made me a retiree long before I could afford it and as soon as I can find a job in this horrible job market I’ll be working again.  It also used to be the age to start collecting Social Security but more and more of us are opting to begin early payments because our pensions were mishandled – or lost completely – or some other financial disaster hit, usually medical.  Speaking of medical, this is the age of Medicare but that is only if you can afford it and it isn’t cheap.
          So, just what does this mean, this milestone?  Well for one it means that I can legally claim to be a senior citizen and all of those discounts I didn’t start to get when I turned 62 will kick in.  I don’t mind telling anyone my age if I get a discount for it.  And, it means that every time the media or politicians say “senior” they mean me, whether I want them to or not.
          Unhappily it means that a lot of younger people will consider me to be over the hill, so to speak, out of it, old fashioned, archaic and not worth much. Happily I’ve only run into that a few times.
          More and more the meaning of “senior citizen” is changing.  Even the media says “older Americans.”  And we are that, older, but not really that senior.  For one thing, there are a lot of people living to their 90s and I have a full generation before I get there.
          But the big thing is that we just are not “old” anymore.  We are in our 60s but we use computers, learn to Twitter, work and work very well cause our work ethics have never changed, enjoy a lot more physical activity than our grandparents and parents did.  I hike in the High Sierra.  I have friends who ski, bike, swim.  We watch current tv, we read current books, we get on line and have a lot of fun with it – well, most of us do – and if we are truly lucky we have children, grandchildren or younger persons who appreciate us and our life experiences. 
          Once old age meant glasses with lines, short permed hair for the women and baldness for the men, old age clothing – let’s face it, we all wear jeans and tank tops now and we shop at the Gap just as much as the kids do – dentures and canes.  Now, that might describe the really really “senior” group.  But not us.
          I used to wonder what old age would mean but what I have surely does not meet any expectations I had back when I was 30 - or 40.  I blog – even if no one is reading it – and I look forward to GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD and I freely admit that I have the hots for a whole slew of really great younger (fantasy) men.  "Cougar." :) 
          The world has changed a lot in the 65 years that I’ve been alive.  Happily for me and my friends and other who are my age that includes good medicine, even better knowledge of what is good for us, a world that does accept that old people do bike and hike etc.  It’s good to be here, at 65.  And what really is "old" anyway?
         

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