Saturday, September 15, 2007

Training to be Old? Not Yet.

This morning's NY Times had a special section called "Training to be Old." Did I read it? Certainly not, though I will be old soon enough, if I'm lucky. I'm guessing it contains the usual: articles on 'do you have the right insurance?' and, 'is your nest egg enough', and, 'are you worried about memory lapses?' (I paged through it, actually, and found I'd gotten it just about right.) Why would I want to think about those things? They're depressing. I'm not at that stage yet and I don't plan to go to school for it.

I've noticed, though, that I am repeating a pattern. At every stage of adulthood, the next stage has looked disagreeable. I remember that before I became a mother, I pitied those who were. Their lives seemed so circumscribed. They couldn't go out to brunch. They had to plan ahead for everything from movies to sex. Travel became difficult. The lifestyle just didn't appeal to me.

Once I had a child myself, I saw that I'd got it all wrong. True, I lost my carefree life, but I didn't miss it. Everything about motherhood that had seemed so boring? Fascinating. Later I pitied the Empty Nesters. When kids left home to go to college, how heartbreaking would that be? But when I reached that milestone, I discovered that a whole new life had been waiting for me.

I learned from these experiences that things seem different from the inside. Disadvantages that loom so large are there, but they are not the whole picture. Advantages may compensate for them.

I predict that the special section on aging will be followed by many more of the same, as the media seem to think that Boomers want nothing more than to look ahead to the next stage of life—and to be told that they are woefully unprepared.

I can't speak for my whole generation, but I'm not ready for my "getting old" training wheels. But give it a few years, and things may look different. We may discover that being even older than we are is not as bad as it looks.

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