Sunday, January 8, 2017

No Longer 30

Yet again, my friend Marj has given me the meat of a new blog post. This is what Marj sent me:
“I am so glad you are writing about the third third of our lives. It has changed the way I always thought. For years I had thought the thing to do is to pick an age, like 38, and then for the rest of your life make sure NOTHING changes. Stay the same weight, keep your hair the same color, keep wearing mascara when you leave the house, keep your same clothes style, keep doing the same activities – just DO NOT start looking and acting older. If you get health problems, fix them! Fast! DO NOT let any infirmities settle in!

“But as I have gotten older, it became increasingly hard to hold at 38. I was starting to feel like a failure. If only I had tried harder. When did I start to lose it? What can I do about it now?

“Then I started reading what you write about the third third. And I realized life really does have thirds. The third third just can’t be the same as the first. And that crazy second third! Who needed all that? I was aware of the concept of there being a season for everything. But I thought that did not apply to me personally. But now I have accepted that there are irrevocable thirds. And I’m in my third one. I’m no longer 38. Haven’t been for decades. And now I realize, I have not failed. I have simply progressed through life. As one does. If one is fortunate.”
It’s funny that one of the things I remember Marj telling me – years and years ago – was that my daughter thought of herself as a “work in progress.” That seemed so positive, such a healthy way of looking at the world. And yet here was Marj, thinking that we make healthy progress to a point … and then it’s downhill.

How many of us have thought – or still think – that way? What age did you pick?

I used to think I was 33. I don’t know why I picked 33. I was single, in charge of my life, a Big Boss in my organization, open to adventure, free of commitments. Long after, whenever I met people, I thought they saw me as a 33-year-old. If they were in their 30s, we were the same age (in my mind). We were all peers. I was 33 for a long time.

I stopped being 33 for two reasons. One was the crushing realization as I looked in the mirror one day that I looked old. Older than 33. The other was more positive: I was coaching, advising, and instructing 30-year-olds … and I had a lot more life experience than they did.
And I guess that’s the two sides of this whole progression through our Third Thirds: we win some and we lose some. I will never fool anyone into thinking I’m 33. Even cashiers in grocery stores offer me the senior discount unsolicited.

But I have life experience. I’ve been there, done that, and know how to make a phone call and get a reluctant company to remedy my problem. I know how to make a quilt, run a half-marathon, create a website – all things I learned after I was 33. I got to experience marriage and parenting … after I was 33.

After age 60, I got to experience Machu Picchu, re-discovery of art in my life, even the Chilkoot Trail. Less-than-60 Barbara hadn’t gotten to them yet, but less-than-60 Barbara had time constraints, obligations, resource limitations.

I’ve always known I never wanted to be 16 ever again. It’s interesting to realize that I no longer want to be 33 either.

1 comment:

  1. I do like my age (71) for all the reasons you mention but am always shocked when I glimpse my reflection in a department store mirror as I use the escalator. I feel the same on my inside as I have through the first two thirds...same personality, same desire to see places and try new things. What I'd really like is another life to do even more in each third.


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