Is Aging Well an Art Form?

With baby boomers now past middle age (generally those born between 1946-1964) how are we aging compared, to say , our parents? It seems to me, as a child, any adult seemed old to me, almost like the fun of their life was over. As school kids, we expected mothers and fathers to be staid, not have too much fun, nothing new was going to happen to them, and they’d sit around a lot. Or that is picture in my head.

So now those in our 50s, 60s, 70s, well to me, we all seem younger than our parents were at the same age. And maybe because fewer of us had children in the baby boomer group, does that make us more youthful seeming? Forever young, or youthful? Or not having child worries delays us of a few wrinkles and grey hairs? Anyway, it seems my baby boomer cohorts are constantly exploring new ways to think, be, and participate. Be it new hairstyles, trips, jobs, homes, trainings, marriages, cars, opportunities…it’s new new new! Yes, the world is different, and the challenges we face are different. Yet also we don’t accept that aging need to be grey perms and polyester.

I can’t say necessarily we are in better health than our parents. Many of my friends have had serious illnesses, much of it related to stress and worry which maybe we have more. I lost some friends early, and we do talk about our aches and pain laments. Interesting we may have more health challenges earlier (or do we?) yet seem younger in our lifestyle and pursuits. Or maybe there are more choices we face, plus we have to adapt, because staying with the same company, mate, or even the same predictable way of doing things (think technology) is no longer a sure thing, as it seemed more the norm with our parents’ generation.

Certainly the way parents ready their children for what to expect in each phase of their life is to share their experience with them. Yet for our generation, and maybe each one behind us, I’m not sure our hands-on experience will translate well, as some of the jobs and possibilities that younger people will face, don’t exist yet, and we haven’t seen them.

Maybe this is where the art form comes in, when we can be open to ambiguity and the unknown, and trust we will know what to do and do it well, when the opportunity presents itself.

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