I’m starting a movement called I’m 55 and I’m Not Dead Yet. When I was a child I thought that when I got to be 50 it would feel ancient. It doesn’t, though. In fact, I feel more like 35, only a whole lot wiser than I was at that age. I think. I hope.
When I was growing up children weren’t revered the way they are today, especially in America. Which I suppose is just the pendulum swinging the other way. It’s beautiful to see, but there’s been a kind of side effect which is a bit weird, and revolting to experience if you’re not a child any more. It’s that as you get older your value diminishes. Well it’s been true for a long time in principle. Who’s ever cared about old people?
But now the years you have of value are getting less and less. Before, in childhood the adults were the ones who had careers and worked towards success. They had huge value in that period say from 20’s to 40’s. But now children shed their innocence very young, and even become celebrities in their teens. They’re the new adults.
Now by the time you’re 20 or 30 you’re over the hill already. Spent, useless to society. Well that can’t be right. It means that as a being, age is what determines your worth. So when you’re young you deserve tons of back-up and support, but when you get older you don’t. It’s absurd. A person’s value lies in their existence, their spirit, not in how old or young they are.
What about the adults like me? It’s taken me all this time to work through all the crap within myself that disabled me and stopped me from making my dreams come true. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what my dreams were, and it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t try. I just failed a lot. So should I just sigh and give up and shrug my shoulders? Should I be philosophical and say at least I dreamed and at least I tried?
I think not. At the age of 55 I could say I’ve had my chance and I blew it. I could let myself be a victim of a social trend to discount people – especially women, I think – over the age of 40 who haven’t made it yet. But if I accept the idea that nothing can happen for me my life is over and what will have been the point? I will have spent my life with my dreams burning at me, wrestling with the enemy within. Only to die and not taste anything of what I’ve craved all my life.
What a waste. Children today are being enabled and given fabulous opportunities today and that’s as it should be. They’re supposed to be given to. But adults are supposed to be given to also. It’s just that as an adult you have to make it happen for you. You kind of have to be the parent to your creative self; to find and give yourself those opportunities.
Somebody said the other day that 40 is the new 30. Well that was a few years ago. Now 50 is the new 40. It really is. People my age are starting their lives over, standing up above the crowd, letting themselves be heard, doing what they want to do. Maybe what they’ve always wanted to. Not giving in to that ridiculous idea that your value has anything at all to do with age. The more of us who do it, the more we change how society views us.
So it’s quite exciting really, to be this age in this era. At the forefront of change. That’s a much more palatable idea than sinking slowly to my grave in ignominy.