FROM THE DOWNHILL SLOPE

GROWING OLD IS A FACT OF LIFE

How old are you now?  How old will you look in your seventies.

First picture? My high school senior picture.

Second picture? Me now.

I was no beauty, no ugly either, sort of a step above a plain Jane.  I was also  a scrawnie stick and am now  a swelte softie–just the type of body David likes to wrap his arms about.

Going from skinny to fat has meant fewer wrinkles.  Having sun poisoning at nine has made me sun phobic, also fewer wrinkles.  I am 85% happy with my current looks. Wasn’t so happy in high school and college.

But this about scaring all you young folk into thinking about the fact that no matter what your age now you grow older every day.   The inspiration for this post came from a Wall Street Journal article that is designed to scare you into saving money for your retirement.   Here’s the article.  I have some different thoughts in mind.

Want To Retire Wealthier? Start by Scanning Your Photo – WSJ.com.

My thoughts?  Hard to know how to plan for retirement in today’s world.  Some of my thoughtful, plan-ahead friends are no better off than David and I, and we were not great planners. Nevertheless, even having to live mainly on our social security, all things given, we have enough for now.  What will  happen in the future is worrisome, particularly given the state of the world today, but that is part of my point.

David and I have ridden somewhat of a financial roller coaster all our married life.  My parents did also, David’s parents did quite well, but everything collapsed, the family business went bankrupt and David’s mother ended up going to work at the age of 66.  She worked for almost 20 years before her bosses found out how old she was and forced her to retire.  She was happy working.  Maybe the years of relative wealth were happier, but some studies show that the capacity for happiness stays the same no matter what our financial condition as long as there is enough for food, shelter, and medical care.  Of course, our consumer driven society has created a need-more mentality.  That brings me back to one of my two points.  I think one of the wisest things I have heard during the course of my life is to know the difference between want and need.

Aging and moving cross country forced us to down size.  Thinking about moving again to a less expensive apartment means downsizing once again.  I look around and am amazed at what I have added during our year and a half here.  Mostly little stuff and nothing expensive, but still marks me as part an acquiring consumer.  Mostly what I have bought are things that add to the quality of my life–things that give me pleasure when I look at them or use them.  A great many came from one or another of the thrift shops  sprinkled around Denver.   Still except for food and one or two other items, all my purchases have fallen into the want category.  Do you know the difference?  I suspect so, and think keeping the difference in mind, keeps you strong in two ways:

Your expectations remain realistic.  I know as my income dwindles and prices continue to creep up, I will buy very few wants.   Keeps me grateful that for now I  can still buy some wants.  One must plan realistically for the future, one also has to live in the now.  I spent too much time in my youth thinking about future happiness.  Most of us do that when young.  I remember thinking, I’ll be happy when I can drive then it was graduate high school, then college,then  get a job,  get my own apartment, get a job I love, find love, have children.  And yes, those things did add to the quality of my life, but also that future focus kept me from appreciating what I had at the moment.

A poem helped me move toward a better apprecation of now.  It was by the Persian poet Saad.

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Staying strong tip:  you will grow old, however young you are now, you will not get younger.  Stay kind, keep caring, keep your sense of humor, treat the old as you want to be treated, lay up some stores for the future, worry most about maintaining loving relationships, and never forget to buy hyacinths to feed your soul.  Stay strong,

2 Comments

  1. Beautiful post Katherine and you are beautiful today! You still have that sparkle in your eyes and the same smile!
    Your message is inspiring and certainly hits home with me! It is not just that we are of comparable age. I think your message is timeless!
    Chris

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