Life. Most definitely NOT a rehearsal
What do you do with your life when what is left can be counted in years, rather than decades?
When the realisation hits that you are sliding into oblivion?
This new fear is aided and abetted by the overwhelming attitude of the community towards the elderly.
Which is clearly that, at 70, you are a living fossil. You have passed your use-by-date.
The biblical finale of three score and ten is seriously outdated and while 70 hasn’t been promoted as the new 60, it certainly isn’t the end of the line - particularly for those who adopted the lycra and bicycle approach to ageing and are still mentally and physically adept.
But society often decrees otherwise, and one minute you are an active part of the network, busily engaged in working to make a difference, the next redundant.
You lurch from having a reason to get up every morning, to wondering what is going to become of you.
Turning 60 gives you a bit of a jolt, and you review the situation.
For a woman, a new hairdo, a bit of Botox and a serious exercise regime might help - it could be the same scenario for a man.
But then comes 70 and this is the real downer, particularly for those who have made working their lives.
When the work offers dry up or you are ‘retired’ off, you are no longer what you do.
I had a friend, a long-time professional, call recently to say she was having trouble coping with turning 70.
She was, for the first time in her life, in therapy.
My flippant remark to pretend she was 60 wasn’t overly helpful.
She looks 60, feels 60, knows she has maybe 10 good productive years of active, productive life left in her, but now feels she has nowhere to go and nothing to do.
With or without Botox and a personal trainer at 70, one is statistically old, and expected to go potter around the vegie patch or take up volunteer work.
We read a great deal about the clock ticking for women approaching 40 who have yet to start a family, but it ticks even louder and faster when your next life option is death.
It creates for many an urgency to make every minute count.
The options are limited.
Volunteer work is a feel-good thing to do, working as a team and making a difference for a sector of the community.
But it is a huge leap from running a company, or being part of a team where your skills were recognised by both results and a salary.
You can do volunteering work when you are still active in the workplace.
It is not an alternative.
A defining characteristic of reaching the “waiting room” of life is boredom.
Those fortunate to have a healthy fixed income can travel.
It is no surprise European river cruises are popular, a comfortable time in another house with a different view and new neighbours.
But what of those on a limited fixed income?
A depressing part of reaching the last leg of life is how to manage on an ever-shrinking dollar when you are considered old, and therefore redundant.
Those who do not retire voluntarily no doubt cringe every time a politician talks up the intention to assist and ensure the aged remain active in the workplace.
What they leave unsaid is that this is to keep them off the aged pension.
This statement goes along with one trotted out a few years ago by political parties who insisted a core value was that a mandatory number of women would be selected to stand for Parliament.
It is obvious that having a reason to get up every morning - be it for paid or voluntary work - having someone to love - be it a friend or family member - and having a few achievable projects on the Bucket List gives life meaning.
But few are prepared for the moment when you can no longer claim to be middle aged, a time often accompanied by loss of a lifetime role as either parent, partner or working professional, and you discover you are considered a hindrance, and most certainly an inconvenience in the grand order of things.
When you are young there is excitement in wondering how your life will unfold.
But when you see the end, and start to count the number of useful months you have before your body becomes an obstacle in itself, anticipation of what lies ahead becomes a fear of knowing just what does lay ahead.
Life, you learn, is not a rehearsal.
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