Is 64 old or young? I run up stairs, spend a couple of hours a day on the computer, and surf the Net, change my mind from time to time when new information comes along (like using non-sexist language); try to read or learn something new each year – I guess that’s ‘young’. But when I look in the mirror I sometimes see my father; a few joints don’t work properly; I hate instruction manuals or fixing things; some 40-year-old counselees relate to me as ‘the father they never had’; I know who BiggIes is; I’m ready to die because I’ve achieved many of my life’s goals – these mean I’m probably ‘old’. (However as Rabbi Tarphan wisely said, ‘It is not necessary for you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it’).
These days, I nap most afternoons, give away more than I hoard, still don’t enjoy the telephone, and am looking forward to spending a couple of months' long-service leave (Jan's; I've never stayed long enough in one ministry to earn it!).
There’s an interesting German word Alterszorn. It means the ‘rage of age’, and refers to the habit of some older people to go over the polemical edge. I can relate to that.
COUNTDOWN TO RETIREMENT
I gave an address last year to a 'Preparing for Retirement' seminar. (See the five articles written for The International Year of the Older Person on JMM's website for the substance of what I said). As part of the talk I listed all the reasons why I'm happy to be in my sixties:
* These days I can sit and look at the trees and the birds without thinking I should be 'doing' something. I can relax with a clear conscience
* I've achieved most of my life goals
* Although we had a $90,000 mortgage my wife and I for the first time in our lives are saving a little
* Our sex life has been sorted out
* I don't mind doing a few chores
* My wife and I know 'who has the veto where' in our relationship. She has veto power in the kitchen, and anything to do with colour schemes for house or car; I've forgotten where my veto lies :-)
* Our grandchildren are a joy to us; it's good that they're someone else's ultimate responsibility
* I don't need recognition anymore (I sometimes switch off during fullsome introductions); I've nothing to prove anymore (which is one reason I don't bother answering rude Internet newsgroup posters)
* I have time to pray and read (and read a few inconsequential books, like one I'm into at the moment titled How to Be a Man: watch for my review of it)
* I try to learn a new skill every year: mastering a few corners of the 'Net has occupied the last five years!
* Ours is a five-minutes-a-month garden (euphemistically called an 'Australian native garden'); I enjoy that
* I've found myself enjoying talking to strangers for the first time in my life; most years I've been 'peopled out'
* It's nice to be home most nights
* I don't have so many 'accidents' or make so many mistakes (that I'm aware of)
* It's nice to be on one committee only: our John Mark Ministries Board, which meets about three times a year
* I know my limitations (I think)
* I think I know how the Devil gets to me and how to thwart him/her
* I don't worry about 'image' any more; my wife often suggests what to wear; and anyone want a sick 1970 Holden Torana car? [Update: We gave it away and I sold my F. W. Boreham collection to buy a new car].
* I can say/write what I think, and hopefully communicate with humour and love and wisdom; I don't need to score points against anyone anymore (unless they're part of an unjust system)
* I've realized that success will feed your ego, but never your soul
* I think I know what can be changed and what can't
* I'm toying with setting a couple of new goals - like entering the veterans' Olympics (I reckon I could run faster than most of them!)
* Last week I enjoyed beating my Freecell best-score with a 100-game winning streak. (If you don't know what Freecell is you're probably better off - more time for other things. OTOH if you want to chase it through the search engines, you'll find there's a Freecell game no one's figured out)
* I'm now free to give more stuff away than I hoard, and I'm looking forward to the time when I'll know where everything - including books - is, 'cos I won't have so much stuff
* I don't worry anymore about how slow the 'Net is downloading some sites; I just reach behind me to a pile of papers I can sort while it's happening. I have a conspiracy theory about the 'speed' motivation to buy the latest...
* Above all, I hope the accumulated wisdom of the last 63 years has equipped me better to do my job, which is to figure out how people, families and churches can be happier.*****
I'm now 72, and I'm not sure I've actually retired. The only thing that's changed from the above list is that the JMM Board have agreed to meet if and when required: but I keep them up to date by email. Also I've given up the idea of seniors' athletics - too much like hard work (and I get plenty of exercise walking with counseling clients).