Boomer Angst: 61 as a number, not an age

Of all the philosophies about being a baby boomer, we love the one we spotted in by Paul Briand, who for 20 years has written about our generation. He calls it “Boomer Angst: 61 as a number, not an age.”

Here’s the thing about turning 61: It’s an age that either defines you… or you define it.

I’m trying my best to define it, so I consider it a number, not a state of mind.

It doesn’t matter that I’m a year from being able to collect Social Security. It doesn’t matter that I’m a year closer to being eligible for Medicare. It doesn’t matter that I’m inching so much closer to that “senior citizen” euphemism. 61 won’t define me in those terms.

DSCF1537Sure, there are days when I feel every year, every month, every week, every day, every hour, every minute, every second of being 61. My knees remind me. My back reminds me.

And there are reminders from my doctor about the tests and routine procedures normally associated with being a 60-plusser. Oh, and the fact that I CAN’T HEAR YOU very well anymore.

But those are the exceptions of who I am these days, not the rule, because I’ve sworn to myself that as I get older, I won’t let the years age me.

I help myself by keeping myself engaged: engaged in my freelance work, engaged with the people I love, engaged with the world around me.

I feel the need to be on the move — physically, mentally, emotionally.

Sit too long and the corrosives will seep into your joints, into your synapses. What did Neil Young sing? “It’s better to burn out than fade away…” Rust never sleeps.

Some of the engagement comes from the fact that I’m on the move between two homes — one in South Bend, Indiana, where my wife Jane works for the University of Notre Dame, and one in Durham, New Hampshire, where I work as a freelancer for a couple of online and print news and information outlets.

I can work from pretty much anywhere because of my fully equipped “office in a bag.” I can set up anywhere and be immediately productive.

I’m given to looking more deeply into 61 than I did 60. Any age that ends in a 0 — 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 — is a big deal because it’s an easily identifiable mile marker on the interstate of life.

61 is the beginning of the outlier years. Hardly anyone notices, and you just go about your business.

That’s why I’m making more of an effort to remain engaged in this life I live. Those outlier years will begin to pile up. Youlive it, or it lives you.

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  1. I think it’s important to work at living your life to its fullest at every age. You’re fortunate that you have a job that you can work from anywhere.

    A tip from an older friend who turned 80 a couple of years ago. Travel and get done what you want to get done in your 70s, because when you’re 80 you start slowing down.

    I think that baby boomers think they’ll live forever, but a person’s health and stamina don’t last forever.

  2. With regard to Paul’s piece on Boomer Angst: 61 as a number, not an age, I might change the title to “age is simply a state of mind”. As we age, our body and mind go through progressions, some good and some bad. As a university instructor in an online environment, I have many students who have returned to school to earn a college degree. Many are fearful of their ability to keep up and stay up.

    Others, myself included have thrived in the online environment because of several key factors; I can go to school, anytime from anywhere I have access to the Internet. The other trait often overlooked by many is the older you are – the wiser. Life is the great teacher and students who return to college in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond (my oldest student to date was 81 years young), are more focused and intent on learning as opposed to when they were younger and distracted by a whole host of other things.

    The facts are clear, the good news is we are living longer, the bad news is we are living longer. As has been foretold in countless articles, the graying of America is upon us. The U.S. census forecasts; “the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million” (Census, 2012).

    Many boomers will need to continue to work in order to get by in the years to come and many will want to work to keep active and minds sharp. Boomers are expanding their use of social media and sites like BoomerCafe are ideally suited to availing a platform for communication and social networking. Like taxes and death, growing older is a given, but let’s embrace it, enjoy it and leverage it.

    Good Lord willing, I plan to live each day to the fullest, while anticipating many more productive and fun years of this wonderful gift of life.
    In the immortal words of much beloved cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz (of Peanuts fame); “Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.”

  3. I like your attitude. Just keep living, having fun adventures, challenging yourself, and remaining involved with people. Enjoy the flexibility in your schedule and the fact that you no longer have to do lots of things you don’t want to do.

  4. I’m going to be 65 next summer and can’t wait. First Medicare (which my parents were so ashamed of but used) then my very low property taxes become even lower and so much more. Personally I think 65 is the biggest because you become eligible for so much and can usually enjoy it. I hope I feel the same before 70, 75, 80 etc.

    People will finally think that I’m wise–well that one’s up for dispute.

    I’m planning my party already–it’s going to be better than the 250 people wedding I had at 21 otherwise known as payback for all the places my parents were invited (I did get to pick out the dress and we wrote our own vows which did leave people talking.)
    And decided to go to Europe for a month in the spring to begin my celebration
    Have a great year!

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