If you take a second to observe an older person near you, you’ll notice some things, and learn from them.
They value routine. Whether it’s the guy who walks his dog the exact same route every day or the woman who eats breakfast and drinks her tea at the same table daily, older people tend to prize their routines. The lesson in this is that there is comfort in routine. It seems like a fair trade from the chaos of youth and middle age, and frankly I’m looking forward to it.
Family is everything. In earlier years, family tends to mean obligation- doctors appointments and chauffeuring and chaperoning and sports events and birthday parties. It can be difficult to just sit and enjoy your kids. But older people are able to enjoy their kids and, if they’re lucky, grandkids and I often think about how nice that will be someday.
Older people have free time. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine having free time. I have to steal free time from other things. If I am in one place, I feel guilty for not being in another. I think it would be lovely to be able to choose an activity of my own free will, so I hope when the times comes, full advantage and appreciation and are duly taken of such an opportunity. Just to read a book at an unscheduled time would be quite a delight.
They don’t worry about money. This isn’t just about rich older people, either. Whether they have a lot of it or not, people of a certain age seem to have accepted their income for what it is and adapted to it, not bothering to worry over how much they have. I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about money- probably almost daily. It’s a stressor that I know drains me physically, mentally and emotionally even though there’s really very little I can do about it other than working hard, which I already do. I wonder how old you are when you stop worrying about money whether you have a lot or not. That’s the age I want to be.
They have their shit together. I guess because of the free time or reaching a certain level of maturity or fulfillment or something, older people seem to have their shit together far more than I ever imagine I will have. Tidy houses, active social calendars, organized travel plans—people over 60 often make me long for the lawn-mowed carefree lifestyle of a retirement community. Knitting club every Tuesday morning, craft class Thursdays and water aerobics twice a week? Sign me up!
I know getting older has its challenges, too. Visits to the doctor seem to be the most frequent complaint among the graying set. Lowered mobility doesn’t seem like it will be any fun, either. I also know, based on the fact that my oldest child is already an adult not living at home, that I’ll miss my children when they’re not in the nest anymore. I hope at least one of my four kids ends up having a kid or two, not for the proverbial “I hope you have one just like you” curse, but so that I can experience the joys of grandparenting I’ve seen in some friends (and my own parents); they seem purely happy in the role.
Overall I think getting up in age seems like it might have advantages over middle age that go far beyond the discount on pancakes.