Reflections on turning 70
In July, I turned 70 years old. Over the past month, as I attempted to write this column, I couldn’t sort out my thoughts and feelings on the page. This new decade announced itself with a sternness I didn’t experience with my other decade birthdays. A few mornings ago, as I walked my dogs, it came to me: my task, at 70, is to welcome 70.
While 50 and 60 treated me gently, 70 arrived with a message – “Get serious! The end approaches!” Get serious? Really? What does that even mean? “Hurry up to accomplish all the things you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t! Get crackin’ on that bucket list!” I resist the inner pressure that inner voice brings. While I may resist it, I don’t want to miss anything important it wants to communicate to me.
What does 70 want to say? It shoves a question in my face – what excites me? I sense an invitation to bring forth those aspects of my life that I deem most important.
My main priority includes nurturing the Awareness of who I really am – formless Being. That includes surrendering more and more to the present moment without worry about past or future. From a Being perspective, I can discern the gifts contained within life’s challenges.
In the world of material form, I love nurturing relationships with family, friends and community. I also enjoy living my life purpose to support myself and others to transform suffering into joy. That doesn’t need to stop just because I’ve turned 70!
And to heck with “hurry up!” Seventy gives me permission to slow down. I recall a funny story about my son, Ethan. At four years old, he climbed onto his bed, covered his head with his pillow, and said, “Mommy! I’m under a rest!” I still chuckle at how his little-boy mind imposed its limited understanding of “rest” onto the broader concept of “arrest.” Seventy calls me to place myself “under a rest.”
Seventy also provides an opportunity for me to watch the ego as it deals with aging. Sometimes it sits grumpily in the corner, complaining it has to swallow the bitter medicine of aging. It dreads what it makes up about a rough ride on a bumpy road. When I’m aware this is ego, I don’t have to let it take over. I know in this moment, all is well!
I’m probably not the personality type to end my life like Hunter S. Thompson suggested: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
I want to experience my later years more like Oak Creek bubbling happily over stones on its way to the Verde River. I want 70 to taste like dark chocolate melting in my mouth. With my face upraised to the sky, arms flung open, breathing deeply and grinning widely, I welcome 70!
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