It doesn't matter if we're 55 or 75. We can still approach our senior years with some style and grace. Here are a few suggestions that have occurred to me. Maybe you have others.
First of all, we've already heard all the jokes about colonoscopies, senior moments and midnight bathroom breaks. We're not going to add anything new, so let's just skip on to other things -- topics that don't so indelibly stamp us as an old geezer. Sure, other people may share your health issue and want some information. But let's not dwell on infirmities and disabilities. There must be other things in our lives to talk about-- the books we've read, the movies we've seen, the places we've been, the plans we're making.
Also, let's try not to harbor regrets or grudges. Are you still pining for an old boyfriend, or feeling disappointed because you didn't get into your first-choice college -- or didn't go to college at all? Are you holding a grudge against a colleague who was once promoted over you, or regretting an opportunity you were too dumb to take? There's nothing we can do about it now, so let it go. And we shouldn't feel that we have to keep our old mistakes a deep, dark secret. Talk about them. Share them with friends. Even Frank Sinatra had a few regrets. We might even find humor in what we once thought was an embarrassing or humiliating episode.
The days of office parties, long lunches and business trips with people we don't even like are over. We have no more obligations, except perhaps to your family -- so we shouldn't feel as if we have to accept a dinner invitation from a boring neighbor. We should be able to socialize with people who make us happy. Go where we want to go, as the old song goes, do what we want to do.
Along the same lines, we often read retirement advice urging us to stay productive, chalk up more achievements. That's great, if you're motivated in that direction. But many of us feel we've been doing that for 40 years -- and now we want to kick back and enjoy life. What's the point of retiring if you have to get up early, rush off someplace where you might not want to go, and then stumble home at night tired and exhausted and stressed out? Some retirees only want to sit around the kitchen table and read the newspaper, then lie around the backyard an watch the clouds drift by. There's nothing wrong with that!
Our days of trying to impress others, trying to keep up with the Joneses, should be long gone by now. If you want to start an exercise program, or a diet, or zen meditation, do it because you want to, not because a friend or neighbor is pressuring you into it. There are lots of reasons to eat right, exercise regularly and challenge your mind. But we should do it only if it makes us feel better, not because we think we'll fit in better. In other words, be yourself. If you want to let your hair go gray, who cares? If you don't want to wear a tie anymore . . . hey, there's no dress code for retirement!
Finally, in retirement I think we should all be able to look ourselves in the mirror -- and like what we see. When we were young we might have wanted to look like a movie star or an NFL quarterback. But now, guess what? You're not a movie star. You're not a quarterback. So we can finally become comfortable looking like ourselves. That's not to say we shouldn't try to look our best -- but it's our best, not someone else's idea of what looks acceptable. A few lines on the face give us character. Age spots show maturity. Gray hair proves we've got some gravitas.
You should listen to me. Because all I've got is gravitas!