A cowboy's guide to aging
Every day for the next 19 years 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 and be eligible for Social Security and Medicare. That is if there is any money left.
This year along with other boomers who were born in 1952, I will turn 60. I am not quite ready to retire and the way the economy is going it looks like a lot of us including myself will be working longer than we anticipated.
And with my youth and middle age in the rearview mirror, the end gets closer every day unless they figure a way to replace all the worn out parts of my body or find a fountain of youth. Even if I make it to the ripe old age of 100, I am way past the halfway mark of my life.
This point was painfully driven home the other day when I received a solicitation for “burial and final expense insurance” from the AARP. I guess before you die you need to write that last check for that “final expense”. The good news is it will be the last bill you will ever have to pay. The bad news is that it will be the last bill you will ever have to pay.
When I get up in the morning my body makes sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies when the milk gets poured on it—snap, crackle, pop. But I am reasonably healthy, I exercise as much as I can to stay one step ahead of the Grim Reaper and can still be in the saddle all day if need be.
And turning 60 doesn’t scare me one lick. According to some things I have read lately, 60 is the “new” 40.
But no amount of Botox or plastic surgery, regular exercise or a more healthy diet can turn back the clock and actually make you 40 again. That fountain of youth doesn’t exist.
So to help my fellow baby boomers prepare for the next phase of life, here is a little cowboy wisdom as we all get closer to that final sunset.
1. Be careful about reading health books. You could die of a misprint.
This quote from Mark Twain is right on point. Every day we are bombarded with articles, books, studies and TV doctors telling us all the things that will kill us. They happen to be all the good things like a cheeseburger. So pay absolutely no attention to all these scare tactics. Just ignore all that noise and enjoy life. Unless you want to spend your golden years worrying about what may or may not kill you.
2. Make time for your loved ones. We are not promised tomorrow so make the most of today.
At the end of the day family is all you really have. Stay in close contact with siblings and other family members. And if you have been at odds with a family member, make peace with them now. It doesn’t matter how it all started or who was to blame. Carrying grudges is bad for your health and it makes family gatherings like Thanksgiving unpleasant.
3. Don’t interfere with something that ain’t botherin’ you none.
There is no need to elevate your blood pressure any more than you have to over things you can’t do anything about. If it ain’t bothering you let it go.
4. Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older and think back you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Cherish your memories. Look back and see how far you have come and give yourself a pat on the back. It may not have always gone the way you wanted but if you lived an honorable life and always strived to do the right thing you should feel justly proud.
5. Finally, we all need to accept the fact our time on earth is limited.
In 1962 when I was 10 years old, the Cuban Missile Crisis was in full swing. My dad had started me on newspapers as soon as I could read so I knew what was going on. There was talk of a nuclear war and neighbors were building bomb shelters. People were scared. Was this the end?
I started thinking about death and it really worried me. So I took my worried look into the kitchen where my mother was cooking dinner and asked her about dying.
She sat me down and said, “Patrick, everybody is going to die someday. The quicker you understand that, the sooner you can get on with the business of living.”
It is something I have never forgotten.
So as we boomers embark on the next chapter of our lives, rather than worrying about getting old, we should just get on with the business of living.
And I’ll bet if we do, we will all live a lot longer.
Patrick Dorinson blogs at "The Cowboy Libertarian" and he can be heard on a radio program with the same name on Sundays, from 3-5 p.m. PT on KFBK radio.