One of my friends, when she received her first AARP flyer in the mail, threw it across the room as if it was a live spark that might catch on fire. "No way!" she told me. "I am NOT there yet!"
I mentioned to a new acquaintance who was in his early 70s that I teach about aging, caregiving and end-of-life, and he said with a sheepish smile, "Oh that's wonderful...so many (other) people need that! Not me...at least not yet!"
Now you all know that I love these taboo topics. I find them fascinating, enriching and meaningful (who wouldn't want to talk about alternative burial options??) But this blog if for the folks above, and anyone else who isn't aging (and has no interest in thinking about it). I want to tell you that you are right.
Yes, you're right, and I'm not being cheeky. Here's why.
Retirement...? what's that?
When the AARP was founded with the retirement age of 65, life expectancy was 64. It was not expected that folks would "retire" and then live another 30 years. Now we can begin entirely new chapters - new marriages, careers, friendships, hobbies -- in our 60s or 70s. The story arc of our lives is no longer peaking once in our 30s or 40s, and then declining slowly into golf and rocking chairs; more and more we are scoffing at these false endings and powering forward into some of the greatest adventures of our lives. So why read about retirement?
How old are you really?
What is your "true age"? 50, 60, 70, 80, 90...? Some folks are living past 110 now (see Kane Tanaka, age 116, oldest living person below). So what do these numbers even mean? How do we make generalizations and assumptions when the experiences can vary so much from person to person? Your 70 may be similar to someone else's 50, so why spend time on topics that aren't relevant for you?
It's hard to predict the future!
Some of us are planners, some are not, and we are living in an unpredictable world. In defense of "non-planning", change is happening so rapidly, who knows what it will be like in 5 years, much less 30. So if you are 70, or 80, or 90 and prefer to spend your time enjoying the moment, rather than thinking about and/or safeguarding the (unpredictable) future, you are making a perfectly good choice.
Time isn't linear...
Yes Dr. Who, don't even get me started on nonlinear time :)
So if you feel like flinging that AARP flyer (that comes in the mail after all - how old school is that?) across the room, you go ahead. Enjoy your age, enjoy your life. And I'll be here if and when you have questions about that upcycled heirloom urn...or buying a mushroom burial suit...or pressing your remains into vinyl... :)