Saturday, January 27, 2024

What Turning 70 Feels Like


See this look on my face. Is it joy? Or an expression of sheer terror? It's 2004 and I'm in San Francisco visiting my writer friend, Jim Frey. He had taken me across the Bay in his sail boat and on the way back to Berkeley, he said, I think I'll take a nap. Here. You take the wheel.

This is what turning 70 feels like. I have no idea what I'm doing in this territory. First of all, I’m surprised to find myself at age 70. It's not the actual number: 70. It's not looking old or feeling old. I look and feel how I look and feel. And within me, lives the 10 year old, the 25 year old, the 48 year old, the 64 year old, but especially, the 5 year old. In fact, today a delivery man brought a colorful bouquet and said, It's someone's birthday! And I stood there, chest puffed out, and declared, It's my birthday! I'm seventy!" I had to restrain myself from counting out the numbers on my fingers.

But let's do the math. Say I get to live to be 100, which is unlikely, but still. Now, let's reserve the last 10 years for rest and relaxation. This means I have from age 70 until 90. My gawd! That's just twenty years. Twenty years to finish my novel, win a Pulitzer, lose twenty pounds, become fluent in French, de-clutter my office, learn the piano, and possibly become a famous folk singer.

You see the problem here. The world is no longer my oyster.

On the positive side, the prospect of death truly has a way of focusing the mind. So there's that.

Creative Friends—perhaps you have arrived at age 70 or another surprising decade. Hold fast onto the wheel. Navigate this thing to the best of your ability and try to enjoy the ride. Whether you have eight or eighty years to live, it's never too early to start thinking about what you want to do and experience before you shuffle off to Buffalo (so to speak).

Your assignment for this week is to focus your mind and consider what’s really important to you. What brings you joy. Then, take the helm. You are the captain of your ship and you are old enough to do whatever the heck you want to do! So, go do it.



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