Attention! Attention! I have reached 70! What’s the big deal, you ask? Because, that’s an age in life that I never thought I would attain, especially in light of the fact that my father passed away the day after reaching 55. However, I am still here—and happy to be so (most days, anyway). So, what do I do now? Where do I go from here? Well, for starters, just this week I ordered a new tent, a couple of sleeping bags, and a self-inflating air mattress. I know what you’re thinking? He’s lost his marbles! And I wouldn’t blame you one bit for drawing that conclusion. But before you pass judgement, or call for a psychiatrist, let me explain the thinking that was behind my latest, somewhat impromptu decision to recapture my youth, to look forward, if you will—to my past.
We’ve all heard the expressions: “70 is the new 50!” or “You’re only as old as you feel!” Unfortunately, many seniors have not taken those words to heart. While their age continues to advance, their “lives” remain stagnant. Most fall into the habit of doing the same old things, eschewing change, and clinging instead to old technology and old activities. How many seniors do you know who refuse to learn how to use a computer, or don’t own a cell phone? Quite a few, I’d wager. In some cases, they have also abandoned many of the activities they formerly enjoyed, such as golf, or tennis, or jogging, because of declining physical abilities (in my case, quite a few). Rather than adopt new activities, however, they willingly allow their world to shrink, and through simple attrition, their circle of friends grows smaller and smaller. To observers, it seems as if many are just playing out the string, just marking time until their inevitable disappearance from the planet.
But it needn’t be like that at all. Where is it written that we can’t try new activities, find new hobbies to replace the old ones, or make new friends? By the age of 70, many of us feel that we’ve pretty much done what we set out to do with our lives (I only use that number as a personal point of reference—for others, the number could be higher—or, sadly for some, lower). If we haven’t achieved all those lofty goals we set for ourselves when we were young, we shrug our shoulders and say “Hey, that’s life! So be it.” (I must confess that that had become my mindset, ever since passing the age of 65—that is until about ten months ago, when God decided to shake things up by gifting me with a granddaughter, just prior to my 70th birthday. Her name is Abigail, and she has changed my life for the better—more than I could ever have imagined. I feel alive again, and I am definitely headed forward—to my past!
In preparation for the “big event,” I obtained a “smart” phone, something I vowed I would never own. I chose an iPhone™, since, according to my three sons and my daughter, no other cell phone would do. (I had resisted the temptation to purchase one for years, clinging desperately to my outdated flip phone, for fear of the intrusion the new device would undoubtedly bring about.) Well, if having the smiling face of my Abigail greeting me on a Saturday morning during a FaceTime™ session qualifies as an “intrusion,” then I say “Great!” Now, instead of carrying a wallet filled with photos of my granddaughter, wrapped in a rubber band, I just tap my new phone’s screen a few times, and instantly overwhelm friends (and unwitting strangers) with an endless display of pictures—and videos, too, complete with sound.
But those aren’t the only changes that have occurred. Suddenly, I find myself watching movies and reading books on mountain climbing again, a subject that interested me greatly back in my 20s. I’ve purchased trekking poles (not for show, but because I need them), and returned to hiking in the woods. Hell, I even find myself looking for 5K races to participate in—with an eye out for an “easy” half marathon. And, of course, there’s that “camping thing” that I’m about to re-engage in, another activity that I had abandoned completely upon entering “old age.” The newly purchased items are arriving daily (and, of course, I’m “tracking” them on the Internet), and already I feel like I’m 17 again, sort of like a teenager awaiting his driver’s license.
So what’s next? A bicycle? I can’t really say. But the hands of time are spinning wildly—in reverse. Onward, I say, onward to the past—there’s life to be lived!