I am pleased to present a special guest writer! Ann Richardson! I met Ann in the Sixty and Me Community as we are both guest writers on their website! I read this piece and reached out to ask if she would mind sharing it with my community! I hope you enjoy it and check out more of Ann’s work.
Every now and then, one comes across a word or saying that sums up a situation with great clarity. This one has an immediate emotional punch.
It was said to me by a woman I met by chance, while waiting for a train. We chatted for fifteen minutes or so and had gotten into a discussion about growing older. I told her I was 81 and I liked being old. She said she was 61 and she didn’t. I asked her why not? “Well, because I feel all my future is behind me,” she replied.
I wondered whether a lot of people feel this way.
Is your future behind you at 61?
There is something about age 60, which sounds like a new level, like the levels in one of your grandchildren’s computer games. Except whereas they are always seeking to get onto a new level, this isn’t something that many of us are trying to get to.
It sounds like the beginning of ‘old’, which means the beginning of ‘the end’. Even if people at age 60 are not yet worrying about death these days – not so long ago, such thoughts might have been very reasonable – it is a time of thinking about retirement.
And retirement means stopping. Life as you have known it comes to an end. I guess it is an easy step to your “future is behind you.” This brief companion also told me that she had lost one husband through divorce and another through death, so perhaps that sounded like the end of the road in the romance department.
We turned to the reasons why I liked being old. “You are SO much more confident”, I argued. Yes, she said, and noted that she hadn’t really thought about that. I continued, “You feel so much more comfortable in your own body”. She agreed.
“And you do whatever you want and say whatever you want to say”, I added. She didn’t demur.
I don’t know whether I won her over, but I did give her a flyer for my recent book on the subject of growing older. And then we parted and I didn’t see her again.
So much to look forward to
But good heavens, life doesn’t stop at 60. It doesn’t even stop at 80. Twenty years ago, I hadn’t written three books I have written since. In case you are curious, the other two include one about how it feels to provide hospice care and one about how it feels to be a grandmother.
I hadn’t written a word for the online magazine for older women, SixtyandMe, for whom I have been writing regular posts for the last eight years.
And I hadn’t begun my new enterprise, started a year ago (when I was 80), of a Substack email newsletter, each with a free post on some topic that captured my interest. I tell people that the topics range from Annunciations (paintings) to orgasms. It has grown from 25 family and friends when I started to roughly 500 subscribers at last count.
All of which have made for a very rewarding period as a writer.
On the family side, which is of even greater importance, I didn’t have either of my two wonderful grandsons, who have added so much to my life.
And the last twenty years have left me happier than ever with my long-standing husband. Many a friend has meanwhile found a new loving relationship on the far side of sixty, so even that side of things is not finished.
Nor are the joys of life counted solely by what one has produced or the people in your life. There is a wealth of everyday experience to be enjoyed.
Everybody is different in what brings them joy, but I have gained hugely from the books I have read, the music I have sung, the places I have been. Not to mention those hours just chatting to a friend. Or lying on my bed thinking my thoughts.
I wouldn’t have missed them for anything.
I intend to have a lot more.
My future is still in the future.
A version of this article was originally published on SixtyandMe.com
If you feel you are ready to explore your future but don’t know where to start, please reach out to me via my website www.deborahvoll.com , and book a free exploratory call here. Together we will discuss your situation and if life coaching is the best option for you right now!