When I’m Sixty Four

As a kid, I loved the Beatles classic “When I’m Sixty-Four” from the Sgt. Pepper album. It’s such a bop, as the kids call it these days – a fun, catchy simple little song that still brings me joy but in a completely different way as I approach that age myself.

Susan Cain, author of “Bittersweet,” sends out a great weekly email to subscribers and this week’s talked about how what you notice and appreciate changes as you get older. I could identify with so many parts of what she shared, and it made me think about my relationship with my physical age.

I’ve always been very careful on a professional level not to talk about my age, not because I’m trying to hide anything but because as my career has progressed (and stalled, and changed, and stopped, and been reinvented a half-dozen times) one thing I’ve discovered is that there are preconceived notions about age in the workplace.

If you’re “too young” or “too inexperienced,” you don’t know what you’re doing and it will take too long to train you. If you’re “too old,” you can’t learn new things, don’t understand technology, are resistant to change, and too close to retirement age.

Either way, unless you fall into the perfect imaginary wheelhouse, there’s a better candidate than you. 

I say this knowing that my skills and experience continue to get me new opportunities, so it’s clearly not etched in stone. But I can’t help thinking that my policy of not discussing my age has helped as well.

And I also say this knowing that I look, and act, younger than I am, which also affects peoples’ perceptions of what I’m able to do.

All this to say: I have recently reached the point where I’m at peace with my age. And a big part of that is accepting the shifting priorities that come with being on the downslope of your life cycle instead of running from them.

It brings me joy that I notice the color of the sky, or cloud formations, or any one of a million other things on my morning commute instead of focusing on getting where I’m going as quickly as possible. 

I see things on my evening walks that I’d never noticed, and certainly never appreciated in the same way – a neighbor planting new flowers, where the birds are nesting – when walking was simply a way to get somewhere without driving.

This isn’t intended to be the musings of someone in his final days by any stretch; I’m beyond the midway point (I hope!) but I’m not going anywhere for a while.

It’s just nice to be at a place where the lens I’m looking at the world through is less of a pair of binoculars and more of a kaleidoscope where colors are more vivid, and shapes are more interesting.

And where “When I’m Sixty-Four” isn’t just a catchy tune but also evokes thoughts of the joys of getting older. We should get something positive in exchange for the aches and pains that age brings, right?

Chris Brewster writes from his home in Waverly, New York. You can see more of his writing here. Chris also recently released his first book, A Lab in The Lab, which you can find here.

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