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Sixty is a nice round number
Jane 051619
JANE LOVES HER WALKS in the woods, despite the ticks. She and the pups make it a part of almost each day, but lately Jane has been considering what she may do in her upcoming ‘unproductive years.’ - photo by JANE SCHMIDT

VIOLA - Soon, I won’t be sixty years old anymore. 

For a few years, I was impatient to turn 60, which made some people think I was crazy, because wanting to be older isn’t fashionable. However, I like birthdays that end in zero. People celebrate them more—and I love celebrating.

The number 60 appeals to me visually: all round edges and curves, like a stone that has spent its entire life being washed over by horrific waves one day and lying there the next, giddily soaking up the sun. The outside is worn and battered but the inside is stronger, more solid.

Some say that 60 is the new 50, because more people are active later in life than they used to be. Sixty still qualifies as part of midlife, although it’s hardly the middle—not too many people live to be 120. Who’d want to?

A quick Google of the word ‘midlife’ brings up numerous articles and research relating to adults realizing their own mortality, reckoning with how many more years they can be productive, or questioning whether they have been.

I do recognize my own mortality. After all, I venture into the woods almost daily for a hike with my pups, and each time I do, I silently greet all the deer ticks and know my time on earth is limited by their abundance.

As for reckoning with how many more years I can be productive—not many, if the ticks keep finding me. But, I also dream of lying on my deck and reading all day. So in one sense, I’m not too worried about how many more years I can be productive. Bring on my unproductive years—I’m ready and willing! Meanwhile, is leading exercise classes considered productive? It sure is for the people who take them!

 

In various articles about midlife, the words ‘stressful,’ ‘restless,’ and ‘discontented’ flash like neon signs. The word ‘crisis’ often follows the word ‘midlife,’ but so far it hasn’t for me. I’m having no more crises than normal. I haven’t sold the farm for an Airstream, although I do think about it. Nor have I embarked on any ‘extracurricular’ activities. Just the thought of all that drama, sneaking around in a small town and having to lie to cover my tracks, makes me exhausted. Besides, when I ask Dane why he likes me, he insists it’s because I’m ‘kind.’

As for midlife and ‘stressful,’ yep, I could put a check mark next to that one. Mostly, I’m stressed about technology and how quickly it changes. I use a flip phone, have no desire to text, and I have no interest in owning a Smartphone. So far so good, but I worry about whether I can keep up with the ever-changing demands of advancing technology.

For instance, it seems like every public bathroom I use is equipped with an automatic sink, toilet flusher, and paper towel dispenser. Am I the only one who stands in front of the sink and towel dispenser looking like I’m conducting an orchestra? My confidence level drops a few notches as I leave bathrooms, while wiping my hands on my jeans. As for the automatic toilet flusher, I stand, turn, and am about to zip up when the toilet makes an exaggerated flushing sound, startling me into an involuntary yelp.

Don’t get me started on automatic phone systems. I revert to age six, every time I call information for a number. When the robotic lady ends her spiel, I yell, “Blah, blah, blah” in my best Cruella de Vil impersonation. The lady comes back on, saying, “I couldn’t understand your request. Please hold for an operator.” Yay, it worked, I win: I get to talk to a real person. 

Recently, I bought a new computer out of necessity because my old one had crashed. The kind man at Vernon Communications was able to save all my pictures, columns, and work files. He claimed my old computer was a dinosaur. I didn’t have the heart to tell him about my landline and lack of a television for cable channels.

Other than that, so far, I like getting older. I’m not crazy about my face sagging, my hair thinning, thighs thickening, or still working a maddening amount of hours weekly. But, I feel lucky that I enjoy what I do and that I have enough time for playing. 

Turning 60 wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be. There were no fireworks or grand celebrations, and only a few cards. I didn’t even have a cake. When I hit 70, my next big zero, I plan on shifting into low gear on my work schedule. And having more cake!