There are so many good things about getting older that I'll have to list them one by one!
Discounts: When I turned sixty-five, I joined a line of elders to get discounts on public
transportation. When I realized how the good the discount was, I exclaimed, "Wow!
There are advantages to getting older!" And a woman behind me growled, "Not many!"
Aside from discounts, there is a sense of heightened awareness of everything: the return of monarch butterflies to my garden after I planted a special bush; the hummingbirds feeding on the fuschia; the cats contemplating the goldfish in the outdoor pond.
There is a wonderful sense of letting go. At first I resented the squirrels going after my
raspberries, and wanted to kill them, or at least install an electrified fence around them. But then I realized there were enough raspberries for us to share, and I relaxed.
Part of letting go means that if I don't feel like getting up in the morning at a specific time, I don't have to. I live in a very small space, 400 square feet, but I have floor to ceiling windows that look out onto a wild, big garden, so the small oblong space I live in doesn't bother me. My space includes a corner for computer, antique desk, bookshelves, and an old metal filing cabinet. My tiny kitchen at the other corner is about
the size of a galley on a sailboat, and is carefully organized. I sleep on a custom-made
bed/couch, but I also have a lovely walnut table that expands for company. There's a
coziness that is balanced by the expansiveness beyond my windows.
I think that's one of the best parts of getting older. Coming to terms with limitations of
physical energy means expansion of psychic energy. I find that the sharpening of
awareness of small things brings great joy, including the taste of a great glass of wine.
Since I enjoy challenges, getting older is one of the final great challenges of my life.
However, I continually learn new things about myself. One of them is how to say "Yes,
thank you," to an offer of help, especially to offers of being driven here or there.
Does getting older mean giving up sensations you relish, like a great massage, or good sex? Not really. At ninety-two, I have massages, but no offers of sex. However,
twenty years ago, when I was seventy-two, I met a charming Frenchman who was
eighty-five. We had eight years of great, glorious sensual and sexual mutual enjoyment
plus intellectual and social satisfaction. He had a fatal stroke when he was almost ninety-three, and that lovely relationship came to an end. (There's a short excerpt from my book on my website: www.rhodabook.com, plus a photo of the walnut rocker that
cemented our friendship).
To sum up, the best part of getting older is heightened awareness of the world around
you, saying "yes" to some things and "no" to others without guilt, and discounts on all sorts of things. Finally, the sense of joy in the present moment, since when it's gone,
Rhoda Curtis, author of RHODA: HER FIRST NINETY YEARS. (A new book is on the way: AFTER NINETY, WHAT)