I didn’t have to look very far to see how other everybody else in the club weighed options as their homestretch came into view.
Many were considering retirement, and just as many were resisting.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that the “over 60” segment of the population grows in numbers darkly proportionate to each new pill you can pop to erase your symptoms or even wind you back a few years.
It’s the hottest topic of conversation among my contemporaries. But of course! Most of them, like it or not, have hopped into the line, paid their dues, and gotten the OK for membership into the “Over 60 Club!”
I hardly noticed because more and more of them were getting less and less old looking. And a lot of them are acting less old, too.
Some of them can’t even wait ’til they’re 60. Take, for instance, Main Street’s favorite UPS man of 27 years. He snuck right in under the fence this month, trading his brown uniform for a lobster boat, not even skipping a beat to reclaim who he really was. He could just taste the joy of that endless string of early mornings on the water in Gloucester Harbor.
“I hope you catch a lot of lobsters, Ambie!” I said, handing him a good-bye loaf of fresh-baked olive bread from Alexandra’s Bakery, with a bow tied on it and a card featuring lobsters.
“Lobsters? I don’t care if I never catch a lobster,” he said. “That’s not what this is about!”
I guess I knew that.
Some club members hold on tight to their rope, wait for a signal that there’s a safety net to catch them if they fall. But if we stop to consider all the safety nets we have constructed, tailored to preserve our fragile selves over a lifetime, the advantage we have over the young is clear. “Take heart!” some little voice in our heads cries out.
We could do a new thing. We could do an old thing a different way. We could get a new knee or hip. We could, if we’ve lost a cherished mate, buy the disc of Puccini arias and listen to them over and over until we’re all cried out, and then buy a second copy for our car. We could gaze at the moon and imagine that it may even possibly be the place where our souls gather when they exit our bodies.
A friend of one of my teenage grandsons said to me, “You should work out. My grandmother missed my grandfather so much when he died that she started working out big time, and now she works out all the time and when she walks down the street, people mistake her for a babe.”
We could, if we hadn’t ever gotten around to it before, try to figure out how our heads got where they are now. Of course, that could be a painful journey, but a worthwhile endeavor nevertheless, facing up to questions of self that have been floating around willy-nilly, unaddressed, for a lifetime.
A lot of my same-age friends start their sentences with the words, “I forget.” My husband and I decided to try not to do that, but are forgiving of each other when we do, and I think we still do it a lot.
I’m getting the picture now. In observing how greatly varied the avenues that other members of the “Over 60 Club” travel down might be, I see a common thread.
So don’t throw away something that makes you happy; just alter it to fit your evolving circumstances.
Don’t jump off the train before you’re pushed; ultimately, everyone gets pushed.
But after that happens, there’s still the soul dance up to the moon, which seems pretty interesting to me.
Susan S. Emerson is a regular Times columnist.