“Sixty is the teenagehood of old age” – so the quote went from an eighty year old woman, via Caz Sheldon, in the photo book I borrowed from the library ‘Visible – 60: Women at 60’. The book features a number of New Zealand women at sixty years old, and their thoughts and lives at that age. Being a child-free woman by choice, and therefore also grandchildren-free, I didn’t really relate to those whose lives strongly featured family involvement. But pop a quote like that in, and I’m all over it like a rash. I thought about this eighty year old, and wondered what she did at sixty-and-more that made her have the feeling of being a teenager again. I went quite a long way with that thought. I possibly awarded her with a life that was nowhere near what it actually was. A wee bit of projection going on there, me thinks. Or, she could have had a ‘teenixty’ life that my thoughts couldn’t even begin to imagine. I hope she did.
I didn’t expect to get to sixty and feel freer than I have for a long time. I was waiting to feel depressed and terrible about it – but it just didn’t happen. I felt good. I’m not kidding myself about what being sixty entails, but I just don’t feel bad about it. I see a window of opportunity appear where I can shake off the seriousness of the last thirty years of life-building and consolidating, and have another shot at a more carefree life, where I can do the teenixty thing – whatever that is. I’m making it up as I go.
So, what does a silly teenixty do? Get a scooter, of course. A kick scooter, that is, not a putt-putt scooter – although that could be fun, too ………… According to friends, family, and acquaintances, I’m a mixture of funny, cool, and an old fool. They’re all correct. The idea to get a scooter came to me when I decided to have a go on one of my great-nieces scooters. I never had a scooter as a kid, so I had to learn how to do this scooting bizzo. There I was, hunched over on a tiny scooter, hoping it wouldn’t break, but getting the hang of it, then doing okay. Ten minutes of this made me reckon that I was pretty reasonable at this scootering lark, so I bought a grown-up one. It’s fun – but also a surprising workout, for someone who’s let their fitness wane over the last ten years (gulp – yes it’s been that long). I also quickly learned that a scooter doesn’t do bumps very well. That’s an important thing to learn. Not having the youth and experience to lift the scooter on the run and fly over the bumps, I stick to the sedate pathways. Some concessions have to be made.
I love books and reading and collecting interesting titbits from them. One of my recent reads is called ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, where she advises to “exercise for your sanity, not your vanity”. I was all over that one like a rash, too. Although there was never a snowball’s chance in hell that I was going to do the Happiness Project myself, because I can’t be faffed anymore doing projects to ‘improve’ my life, I enjoyed many of her insights and self-confessed failures along the way. And I found it to be true – exercise can keep me sane. This wee mantra above got me over the obstacle of ‘needing’ to exercise for health and image (how well does that work for most of us?) and began the quest of looking for that which I actually like to do, which doesn’t always mean easy to do, to ground me and keep me sane in the sometimes lunacy of life. Fun exercise, hard exercise, gentle exercise, competitive exercise, vigorous exercise, off-the-wall exercise, standing-in-a-line exercise, social exercise, solo exercise, graceful exercise, beautiful exercise, silly exercise – they’re all on the agenda, as long as it fits the criteria of ‘sanity, not vanity’.
Must away to the supermarket now on my scooter.