Thursday is the new Friday. Blue is the new black. 60 is the new 50. Or 40. So the clichés go. Although I’m not convinced we should apply them to age at all. Sure, as life expectancy has increased, 60-somethings who would once have considered themselves old have generally become ‘younger’ in terms of health and attitude (it’s not unusual for them to be running their own businesses or half marathons) but why hang our age on the hook of a supposedly more acceptable number. Why can’t 60 be the new 60? Acknowledge what it represents now.
I’m not going to go all positive guru on you and argue 60 can be anything you want it to be. Because that’s cobblers. There are lots of can’ts in my life. I can’t do the splits. I can’t stay up super-late two nights in a row without feeling like I’m walking along the seabed wearing a copper diving helmet. I can’t brush my once luxuriant hair because I have a ponytail that could pass through the eye of a needle. And I can’t catch sight of my neck in the rear view mirror without letting out a sad sigh…and yes, I know we’re being encouraged to embrace (dislike that word) visible signs of ageing - to see wrinkles as expressions of a life well lived. I get that. I do. I just can’t see it on myself.
There are other kinds of can’ts I experience on a regular basis. I can’t bear that modern life is ridiculously overcomplicated. I hate jumping through technological hoops to get the simplest things sorted. Trying to prove I’m not a robot by picking out American fire hydrants in a picture, pondering whether a flange is infiltrating another square. Or retyping some code with numbers and letters that look like the product of a long-sucked stick of Brighton rock. And I can’t believe we’re at the point where the people scamming you by posing as your bank sound more professional and efficient than the bank itself.
But some can’ts are good. I can’t be arsed to do things I really don’t want to do. Like being dragged to tribute bands. Or playing rounders with a large group of friends in the park. Or sitting in a cold back garden waiting for a barbeque to char something to imperfection. I’ve spent a lifetime saying ‘yes’ to invitations when inside I was screaming ‘Dear God, no’. When you get to 60, the no-go gets easier.
As for the can-dos, now is the perfect time to tackle areas of knowledge that might be outside your comfort zone. Look at Jeremy Clarkson who at 61 says he’s processing a mind-blowing amount of info down on the farm. Sure, while the facts I’m absorbing in the realm of horticulture amount to diddly squat in comparison, it’s still an ‘engage brain’ situation, especially with all that Latin. As is wrapping my head around search engine optimisation for my nascent blog. And while I used to sneer at the whole influencer thing, well who’s to say I couldn’t get into that too? Not sure who I’d influence, but I could give it a try.
Tatoos. That’s another current can-do. According to trend reports, more of the mature are lining up for inking, the flag bearer being Dame Judi Dench who has ‘Carpe Diem’ inscribed on her wrist. Piercings too have become customary for an older crowd. Personally, I’ve always steered clear of tattoos for fear that as skin becomes more crepey, cute images might turn creepy. But I would definitely go for piercings. Nothing lingual or nostril-related, you understand. Perhaps stack a couple of diamonds on the edge of my ear. Some sparkle to switch focus from my neck.
And I strongly believe 60-somethings have a great deal to offer in the world of work, especially creatively. Because when you’ve been around the block a few times, you recognise some new ideas are actually old ideas. Even bad ideas. Which means someone like me will push themselves harder to find concepts that are genuinely different. Experience is a rich source to be mined and shared, not brushed aside.
Look, I don’t pretend to understand a fraction of what Gen Z and millennials appreciate. I have no clue if bitcoin is a good investment or how you go about holding a marriage ceremony in the metaverse (although it must cut down on the catering). And I can’t reel off a list of everything that’s considered ‘cheugy’ (pronounced chew-ghee and meaning ‘out of date’ if you’re asking). I suspect even using that word itself is probably cheugy by now. But I do know one phrase that’s way past its usefulness and that’s ‘60 is the new 40’. So very cheugy. Don’t you think?