Aging certainly isn’t what it was in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. But what makes 60 different today? In our youth, we Boomers determined couldn’t trust anyone over 30. Then we reached 30 and had to ask – “Now what?” The answer? Hang onto our youth.
Little did we know as we watched The Bionic Man and Woman on TV that we too might one day be bionic beings. Have a problem with your hips or knees? Break some fragile bones and need to replace a wrist or shoulder? Trade in those old bones for new, artificial joints. Sagging boobs or butts? Dr. Nipentuck will be glad to lift ’em up. Teeth failing? Dr. Gleaming-White can provide you with new implants. Wrinkles and loose facial skin? Start with the miracles of chemistry available at the finest cosmetic counters, drug stores and from your Mary Kay lady. If that fails Dr. Nipentuck will be happy to revive your face with the latest plastic surgery. The list of body parts and functions that can be helped by the miracles of chemistry or surgery goes on and on from our outward appearance to our performance behind the closed doors of our bedrooms.
That path is both blessing and curse. It’s a blessing to keep our minds and body fit and healthy. It’s a curse when the pursuit of youth take us on a path the outward face of which is more caricature than real person. Yet with each passing year Old Man Time plays havoc with our minds and bodies. Blessed are they who find the balance and peace of self-acceptance in this battle with Old Man Time. Ultimately it’s a battle we must lose. Time moves on and the years go by. With each class reunion, more people have joined the list of those who have passed from this life. That list is longer when one is 60 than it was at 40. It’s inevitable.
In truth 60 is 60. But, I would suggest that 60 now is different. For the most part, or at least among the Boomers in my circles, we have no intention of going quietly into any final good-nights. No. We’re going to rock ‘n roll as long as we can. We no longer suffer the angst of our youth; we have nothing further to prove. Rather than retire, many of us enter new, second careers and pursue the interests and passions we dreamed of in our younger days. Active adult communities are springing up everywhere. Communities where the residents have access to classes, recreation and a vibrant social life with other like-minded neighbors. Is 60 the new 40? No, and thank God it isn’t. But neither is 60 “old” in the way it was in generations past.
What do the future decades hold for aging Boomers? Perhaps the play list accompanying our Golden Years will change. Will The Village People sing “Got a Letter from the AARP” or KC and the Sunshine Band sing “I gotta put on my my my orthopedic shoes to boogie with you” as comedian Tim Hawkins suggests? Will we start new rock groups like Earth Wind and Fiber or The Grateful We’re Not Dead? Or, perhaps our 70’s and 80’s will find us sitting around the warm heat of a fire pit at the senior center, puffing our medical marijuana and singing Karaoke to The Beatles greatest hits. Indeed, the lyrics “I get by with a little help from my friends” take on a whole new meaning with each passing year.