THE NEW 50??SERIOUSLY??!!

 

 

You’re KIDDING, right??

Who the F#&K are YOU??!!

 

Unlike the other guy, click on this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/21/geraldo-rivera-shirtless-photo_n_3631053.html and of whom I am not a fan) – who is fancied by some, and by himself as a journalist, but here self-depicted as Narcissus 2013 – I believe that whether or not 70 is indeed “the new 50” has to do with WAY more than how I look with my shirt off. (BTW, I’m really glad I kept mine on).

In truth, I’m happy with where I am now – in countless ways…thankful to have made it this far, and in pretty decent health to boot. Gratitude is my address.

BUT, I’m definitely not feeling 50 again when I’m up for my 3rd pee of the nite (pipes ‘r  gettin’ a bit rusty, I reckon). And these weird spots showing up on the back of my hands and my face? What’s up with that? And, why am I entering rooms, stopping dead in my tracks, and asking: “Why did I come in here”? And, “I crashed my bike a whole month ago, why are these bruises taking so damn long to heal? And…

The new 50? I don’t think so.

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I was chatting with Brewster Martin, VT. Country doctor, “Jeffersonian” man, interested in and curious about everything, father & grandfather to some of the people we love most in the world (including our sweet, great God kids), an individual I loved, admired, and respected hugely, and now miss a lot.

We were at our VT. Cabin. The occasion was my 50th birthday. I was moaning and whining about being 50. Brewster was listening patiently, with that impish smile on his face. When I was done complaining, he responded: “Well Michael as it happens I only just turned 70. If I was 50 again, I wonder what I would do with the 20 years.” POW!!! Just like that he shut me up.

So, now I’m exactly where Brewster was. And, what did I do with the time? Well, I don’t know really. A lot I guess: Living happily in a wonderful 43 year marriage to a spectacular woman. Done raising an amazing daughter who I am crazy about and respect  so highly. Ran a business for a while. Shut it down. Ran another. Shut it down too. Moved from a Victorian brownstone in Montreal to a houseboat in San Francisco Bay.  Reinvented myself. Found Life Coaching. Found Buddhist practice. Found new friends. And way more than I can possibly remember, or need to bother you with. I’m sure you get the point.

And how fast did those 20 years of doing all this stuff go by??

You know that comforting “whoosh” sound your iPhone makes when an email gets sent?

Like that!!

That “whoosh”? That’s our lives.

And why so fast? And seemingly gaining speed?

I remember, as a kid, when we took car trips, the ride “home” always seemed faster – same distance, same road, same time of day. So probably not really faster, but seemed faster. So my theory on this is that because the trip “home” passes over familiar terrain, we “ignore” the landmarks. We don’t pay attention.

A tiny example of what I mean: We recently bought a new bed. It arrived last week in 4 cartons of wooden parts and a million bits of hardware. Putting things together is not my expertise, but I decided to try to assemble it myself. By the time I figured it all out, it took me almost the whole day, which went by pretty slowly actually, (doin’ something new). If there’s a next time (though I doubt it) it will take an hour, two max.

I’m learning the guitar. Mostly because I’ve always wanted to – and if not now, then when…right?  I’ve certainly waited long enough to get started! But also because I know it’s something I’m gonna have to work hard to learn: where are those strings? Those chords? Why won’t my lazy fingers obey my brain? Again, unfamiliar territory…something new.

I used to think that as I aged, things would become clearer – that I’d be getting answers to some of those big “why questions”, but It’s certainly not working out that way.

Well, maybe I’ve gotten a few insights, but not to the biggies, (touching mostly on the incomprehensible behavior of the humans).

So, even if not on the big stuff, understanding has come on some of the little things – things I observed, but didn’t “get” about “codger mode” while I was still in “youth mode.”

Why, for instance, did they always complain about forgetting things? I get it now – sometimes it takes hours, maybe even a whole day, for some word or name I’m looking for to creep back into my brain.

And while I’m on this topic – remember this guy??

JUST GOOGLE IT ALREADY!!

 

How do we know for sure that this world famous icon was really thinking great thoughts? Or, was Rodin perhaps depicting him simply trying to remember the name of some movie he saw, book he read, or what his wife asked him to pick up at the supermarket on his way home? Hmmn…no Google for him…that sucks!

Another learning, on the topic of possessions: at least 25 years ago, my late stepdad was moving. He asked me to transport his extensive (and valuable) collection of Chinese art to his new digs. Due to mis- counting, I was sure I had lost a piece. I hadn’t but I believed I had. I was going nuts. I had no knowledge of its value, but knew it was a lot…a lot. When I “fessed up”, he just shrugged his shoulders, and said unconcernedly “It’s just a thing, don’t worry about it.” I couldn’t believe it. But I remember this incident well. On this topic of possessions, I’m there now.

There’s something else I used to observe in those codgers: Like them, I notice now that the tears come more easily to me than they used to.

Another really small thing: the music. I’m open to (and actually enjoy) some of the music from the generation before me. Music that used to make me want to throw up.  For example, the music of “Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.” Jeez!! But now? Now I have room for it.

As a matter of fact, and while we’re on this particular subject, and this particular “Guy”,  60 years ago or so, Guy Lombardo was kind enough to offer me this very useful advice, which I’m finally taking to heart. (I never said I was a quick study, did I?). So I thought I’d pass it along to you. Have a listen; and as usual, if you are reading this in your email and there is no link, click on the title at the top of this, which will take you to my site. The link will be there. Enjoy!!

What’s next for me to learn? We’ll see. The Buddhists have this expression: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” It’s taken 70 years, but I think I’m ready at last. I await my teachers eagerly.

PRACTICE TIP (AKA – ADVICE):

I have to admit here that this section of my posts, which I regularly characterize as  “Practice Tips”, is looking, (particularly this time), quite like advice giving- something I’m usually loath to do.

“Advice”, as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar once said, “is the one commodity most freely offered by the humans, but least accepted”.

Having said that though, I will now dare to offer you some. Feel free please, to ignore all of it:

 

For My Fellow Codgers:

 

  1.  About all these changes happening to you: Smile! What else is there to do?
  2.  But, at the same time, do remember to take your meds, cut down on the Haagen Dazs (that’s a toughie), and take care of whatever else it is that you need to do.
  3.  Something hurts? Do you suffer? You’re not alone. Leonard Cohen said it well: “I ache in all the places I used to play”. But here’s the thing: Of course your pain is REALabsolutely! But, your suffering? Your suffering    is OPTIONAL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             What do I mean? The part about wishing it wasn’t so – “I don’t like/want this;” “Get this away;” “This shouldn’t be happening to me;” “Why me?” – This part is EXTRA. THIS part is your “suffering”. THIS part is OPTIONAL.
  4.  Regrets: we all visit this place from time to time. It’s unavoidable. But “regret land” is “paralysis land”. Don’t hang out there.
  5.  Do something new. It slows things down.
  6. Be happy. Be grateful. You’ve made it! YAY!!

 

Any Young Readers Out There? 

  1. Wise advice from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Build your life as though it were a work of art.” I really love this. Why? Well, what do we know about works of art? Works of art are deeply personal. They come directly from our hearts, fully expressing the passion of the artist. They are acts of courage, honesty and originality. Worthy goals for your life, don’t you think?                                                                                                                                                                                   
  2. That dream of yours? That project? Start now! Commit! Right now, you are “readier” than you acknowledge. Right now, you are “good enough”.
  3. Oh yeah, another thing: almost everything that you fear will happen…wont.

 

Afraid of WHAT? Says WHO?

 

4. Be happy. Be grateful. You have big adventures coming. YAY!!

 

Dear Reader, however old you are, please be kind to yourself. And to someone else too.

Metta,

Michael

About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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