“It’s only a Number.”
“You don’t look it.”
These are the two common responses that I have heard to my turning seventy. In our culture many want to hide their age. I understand why. Ageism does exist. Not long ago I showed my GP a finger joint that has been swollen for several years.
“Can I have an x-ray and possible referral to see what is going on?” I asked. Taking a quick look, the response was: “No, we’ll wait until it’s painful and then inject it with cortisone.”
I’m not even going to elaborate on the assumptions behind that statement. I will not give up that easily on my finger. I have come to trust my body’s healing capacity, and will rely on that, as I age, seeking out supportive practitioners.
When I turned sixth-nine, my deceased father’s words rang in my ears:
“You are in the 70th year.”
I decided that seventy is a BIG number and I was going to make a big deal of it. I planned seven special things for the year. The final was an art show opening the day after my actual birthday. It doubled as a birthday celebration.
“Grit, Grace, & Gratitude” was the title of my show. In my comments I noted how it was the grittiest experiences in my life that have brought the most pain, depth, and growth. They also lead to the moments of grace sprinkled through my life, and now to my immense gratitude for it all.
A few days after the opening of my show, a friend sent me the link to a CBC interview with Artist Ann Mortifee. Her music has been important and healing for me since I first heard her perform in the mid nineteen-eighties. She also turned seventy recently, and performed a concert in Vancouver to celebrate. Her words gave me the next bit of encouragement I needed, “Seventy feels really powerful.” (annmortifee.com/seventy-feels-really-powerful)
This I know: Any ‘power’ that wants to come into the world through me in the coming years will only be diminished by my lamenting of my age. I will continue to do what sustains the health of my body and the vibrancy of my spirit; I will encourage and support others to do the same. The world needs us to offer the wisdom that comes from living life deeply, authentically, long, and with compassion.