“We’ve made it!” I said to a friend, who recently turned sixty-five, later realizing that the words reflect what turning sixty-five years old means to me. My day will proceed with little fanfare. A family Zoom call, maybe blowing out a candle or two, and if I am lucky, perhaps a sweet card from my husband, all trying to gloss over the reality that I am “getting on in years.” I have only to look in the mirror to see the gravity of the situation. My skin on my upper arms looks unmuscular and crinkly, a new age spot appears weekly on my face and my hair that is graying. I find myself asking my husband more than I care to admit to repeat something, even though I passed my hearing test with flying colors.
Yet turning 65 years old has its upside. For me, it represents a crossroad, a time when you have one foot lightly adhered in the past, periodically reflecting backwards, still with anticipation for the future, where the other foot wants to be firmly planted. The actor, Gabriel Byrnes, wrote in his recent memoir, Walking With Ghosts, “I realized that the landscape doesn’t belong to you, and what you think of as home doesn’t belong to you. What you do own is the memory.” This resonates with me because in the next several weeks I am moving and leaving a home I have occupied over ten years. It is not due to loss or lack of choice. This was not my reality of moving as a child, which occurred more times than I wish to count. My father, who was a LTC. in the Army packed up his family- his wife and six children-and went where the military told him to go. There were parts of the experience I loved, like living in Panama as a young teenager and meeting people of all walks of life. Other experiences as an Army brat were more trying. My father’s two tours in Viet Nam and then his subsequent death when I was seventeen years old were heart breaking. It was not only traumatic, but a double whammy because after he died, we had to move from our military housing. I remember crying buckets of tears returning home from the first day of senior year at my new high school which was the fourth high school I attended.
There were even more moves after my senior year of high school- to college, after my first marriage and subsequent divorce, upon remarrying, and finally to my present home where my husband and I have built our dream log home. As much as we both love our home and have been honored to be stewards of the 23 acres which surround it, we are weary of all the maintenance and upkeep-the staining of the home, its repairs, the gardening, mowing and it has all felt out of sync with our growing desire to pack lightly in the second half of our lives.
Which brings me back to turning sixty-five years old. I understand, all too painfully after seeing so much loss and suffering incurred by Covid-19, that life is short and if not now, when will I be ready to step into a new experience? In preparation for packing lightly, my husband and I have diligently been on a mission to divest of our home contents by donating to goodwill, selling and bequeathing goods getting readying for the move. Looking at so many of the items such as books already read, tchotchkes from ages ago, clothes and jewelry that no longer fit our taste, have given us pause as to why we feel it necessary to weigh ourselves down with so many trappings of life. We believe the river of life will carry us further, with a less burdensome load, and we have faith in what will present itself in the future, may be even more wonderful.
Perhaps, being on the crossroad of sixty-five years old shines a spotlight more brightly on what is truly important at this stage of life. Our desire includes living closer to our son and other family members, having a small thumbprint of a home with a supportive network of neighbors, and living in a home that will be combination of a landing pad/sanctuary rather than a constant project, such as our present home. We will be sad to say goodbye, just as it was sad every time I said goodbye to that chapter of my life. But the river of life is beckoning. It is time to move on. Lighten the load and make time for travel. Now I can look backwards and see my life as a river where I have been carried by the supportive winds of those who have loved me. There are moments of great progress and other times where it seems I am drifting downstream seemingly stuck in the doldrums. Most the time, I have paddled furiously upstream but now that I am turning sixty five years old, maybe I can trust that the universe has my back and I don’t have to paddle so hard.
We may never be able to go back home, as Gabriel Byrnes so eloquently quoted, but the memories will carry us into the future. Carpe diem!
About the Author
Dr. Lisa Cowley is a regular contributor to babyboomers.com. If you haven't had a chance to read her other great articles, you can find them here: Walking Your Way Toward Health, The Power of Breath Awareness, Are You Stressed?, The Attitude of Gratitude, Dream Well Into the New Year, and Healing The Gut.
Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. Together, Lisa and her husband Victor have contributed the following articles: New Book is a Practical Roadmap for Redefining Your Purpose and Holy Shiitake.
You can learn more at: www.joyinaging.com.