I’ll be sixty five on Friday August 14th, 2009 .
Normally I don’t make a big deal out of birthdays. I certainly do not morn the passing of another year as a milestone along some downhill road to eternity. Chronological age has always been basically “just a number” to me. Certainly a good time to reflect for a moment on where one has been and where one is headed but more with a mood of “ataboy” for the former and excitement and anticipation towards the future.
This particular birthday however, is a little different. Our modern culture has historically and continues to place prejudicial emphasis on the number 65 as a gateway point for diminishing expectations. Graduation Day into the role of Senior Citizen. Some would want you to believe, a major change in societal status.
Medicare kicks in. Daily offers for term life and long-term care insurance products, medical supplemental coverage, retirement investment plans and other “senior directed” marketing flood the mailbox. It is not because all of these firms love you that this Tsunami of correspondence appears on the horizon. Marketing departments worldwide are focused on the fact that YOU, the new Senior Citizen demographic, have now come into possession of your retirement savings, perhaps the largest lump sum you have had or will ever have under your control, and they aim to gently but persuasively migrate those funds from your accounts to theirs “by any means necessary”. In spite of the grey haired, bespectacled smiling faces on the advertising brochures, I do not believe Mutual of Omaha has suddenly become my new BFF.
In some cultures (although the numbers are vanishing) adults who have reached a significant lifespan are celebrated, respected and even revered. When I look around here however it seems that the “elders” are more often marginalized than venerated. I’m not happy to share this observation, and I am more than ready to be proven wrong. On the other hand, and more importantly, I have the power to resist marginalization. I will continue to make a difference through art and other means as well. I do not intend to take naps after lunch, falling asleep in an easy chair while watching “As the World Turns”. I don’t even own an easy chair. Rather than slow down, I intend to speed up (OK, maybe only slightly but nonetheless…)
I mean to eschew fear. (I may need to make an exception for the health care system which is very very scary indeed.)
I will take all available discounts and privileges. It’s a partial nod to the respect thing. I just got a little green lifetime pass that lets me in to all the State Parks and such for free because I’m over 62. (If you are, you should check it out!) Similarly there is a Federal Lifetime pass available for a one time fee of $10 if you’re of “a certain age”. Got It!
Other than that and despite the media images of seniors playing shuffleboard and walking on the beach, I’m moving forward, doin Yoga, takin photographs, playing the Saxophone, and Making a Joyful Noise. Maybe I’m not so much a Senior Citizen as an Experienced Citizen. I’ve got good “Time on the Planet” and with Gods graces, more to come. I am sixty five and alive! And in the end sixty five is “just a number”.