Betty Friedan got it right when she said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” I cannot remember a time in my life when I was happier and more fulfilled than I am right now in my 66th year of life. Retired from my 35+ years in education, I now have more opportunities available to me than ever before. Unburdened by NOT having to adhere to a work week of commuting, earning my paycheck, squeezing in a workout at the gym and running myself ragged on my days off to get all my errands done, I am now free to explore the world however I want. I have the options to do whatever I want, when I want or quite honestly, I can sit on my ass all day and do nothing……
I choose to pursue what I derive great meaning from and dive in.
I’m one of those people who thrives on feeling fully alive. What feeds that aliveness is being connected to myself, my loved ones and the world. And now, more than any other time in my life, I have the opportunity to do all of this. I have the time to nourish myself with ample rest, relaxation and exercise. I have more time (never enough) to spend with loved ones. And my world has been broadened by travel to foreign places expanding my personal horizons, mastering new skills, meandering through creative projects, and moving out of my comfort zone by doing things that I’ve never done before.
And it’s not to say that I haven’t had my challenges. I have had some health issues that have required surgical procedures, hospitalization and months long recuperation. I have lost loved ones and some dear friends have died way too young. People I care about are getting sick and suffering. I look at my body sometimes and wonder, “Who are you?”
And yet, I find strength – some comes directly from lessons learned from the myriad of experiences of my life. Some strength comes from the wisdom of those around me and honestly much of it arises from a wellspring of understanding, empathy, compassion and humor that I am able to offer myself when the going gets tough or the road becomes a little rocky.
To me, when Betty Friedan says, “Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength,” she offers us a view of growing older that is rich with possibilities and ripe for personal growth. And to me, what is much more important than being a youth or young, is that feeling of being alive and vital coupled with the wisdom of life’s lessons and learnings and understandings. Some say, “youth is wasted on the young.” I say, “Young’ums, the best is yet to come.”
By Roberta Teller