As of today, 365 days of age 65 lie ahead of me, ready to become relevant. I have the power to make them so.
60 Days of 60
Five years ago as I anticipated my 60th birthday, I dreaded that someone would take charge and arrange a surprise party. I wanted to control my own transition to 60, so I declared a 60-day-long celebration, 30 days leading up to my birthday, and 30 days following.
My inspiration came from television. During the 30 days leading up to the Academy Awards the Turner Classic Movie Network aired Oscar-winning movies. During that February TCM advertised 30 days of Oscar. Similarly, I pronounced my extended celebration to be 60 Days of 60.
Some of those 60 days featured insignificant things, like indulging in a hazelnut coffee at Sheetz on my way to work. Or I ate lunch out rather than at my desk. I viewed splurging on M&Ms from the vending machine as a festive act. The most elaborate event included my sister and sisters-in-law in a day-trip to see the musical Sister Act. My husband, Paul, arranged a birthday party after all, but informed me in advance. When the 60 days expired in early April I had worn out my celebratory attitude. Yet, I felt satisfied that I had effectively honored the milestone.
Choose to Celebrate
Ironically, by the end of that year my mom had died and my son faced a crisis. I grieved over losses. Fleeting thoughts that I had tempted fate haunted me. Did these sorrows balance the extravagance of a two-month birthday celebration? Or had providence encouraged my commemoration knowing how sadly the year would end? My guilt was recently assuaged by a quote from “A Gentleman in Moscow,” an Amor Towles novel: “Let us simply agree that a wise man celebrates what he can.”
Five years later I pondered how to mark the 65th milestone. I considered a revised version of the 60-day commemoration. I boldly considered using the entire year, 365 days of 65. I did a trial run of that idea January 1. After a few days of small celebratory moments, I back-pedaled into identifying a daily highlight. After a series of busy days the effort to identify a celebration each day felt ludicrous and artificial.
Now is the Time
All the while, signs pointed to using my 65th birthday to embark on a project I have considered for three years, but feared: a blog. My 2018 pocket calendar chided me with the caption: Now is the Time. Since 2014 I’ve carried in my purse an article by Dr. Phil who advises one get the most value out of the time left. My chalk board door espouses a five-point parameter for my retirement: be practical, be useful, be creative, be generous, and finish big. All these visual messages urge me to take the risk. During the past few months I have twice encountered the SMART acronym for goal-setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. A weekly blog could perfectly meet those guidelines.
I will turn 65 today, no matter what. Why not make it remarkable in a more significant way? Whether the blog succeeds or not will cost me very little. Most importantly, I will routinely examine the events in my life to find meaning or humor. I have no advice to offer, that is what AARP is for. But I have a network of supportive friends, whom I may call upon for their own senior perspectives. If readers find connections or similarities with the senior moments of my life, perhaps we will all be reassured and empowered.