The Beatles on the human condition . . . youth . . . aging . . . illness . . . life and death . . . and the song goes on . . .
The Super Bowl has come and gone, and Groundhog Day as well. And what do I have to show for the winter?
It’s been, first of all, a lazy winter. That would be an objective report.
However, I prefer to look at it as a winter of reading, thinking, planning. I haven’t done as much blogging as I’d like. On the other hand, I’ve finally joined Twitter, and I’m even beginning to see its usefulness. Feel free to follow along on Twitter @BJohnHayden.
I’ve joined the local gym, and I’m showing up on a regular basis. That’s important, because I’m now beyond denial. I recognize that if I want to do any useful work in the years I have remaining, it’s imperative that I exercise and conserve my health.
Mostly, I’ve been thinking about and preparing for retirement, Continue reading
You want romance and character development? See Bull Durham. Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams in Trouble With The Curve aren’t in the same league with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham.
Trouble With The Curve is all Clint Eastwood. The romance is fluff. Baseball is only the setting. Trouble With The Curve is about life and loss, failure and decline, maybe even aging gracefully. Not that I’m calling Clint Eastwood graceful.
Trouble With The Curve begins as a baseball movie that only a grumpy old man could love. But it fools you like a curveball in the dirt, and turns into, of all things, a chick flick. It might be the best baseball/romance combination since Bull Durham. Both movies are about life-changing events, about going with the curveballs life throws at you.
How do you get away with casting Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in the same film? You add Amy Adams as daughter of the old man and love interest of the young one.
People are living longer, therefore the U.S. needs to raise the Social Security retirement age.
The above statement fills me with despair. It can be spoken with a straight face only by a young person or a rich person who doesn’t understand: a) What it feels like to be sixty-something in the 21st century, and b) The place of the American worker in the market for human labor, given the new-normal, flat-world economy.
Full disclosure: I come at this retirement age question from a Baby Boomer point of view. I celebrated (?) a 64th birthday in June. For which I’m grateful. It means I’m one of the survivors. I am now enjoying my 65th summer on the planet Earth, which is one of my favorite planets.
“. . . something else that happened with the end of the Cold War and the passing of the baton from the Greatest Generation to the baby boom generation: an erosion of important, traditional American values that long underpinned our public and commercial life. . . .
“A well-functioning political system must be rooted in something deeper than itself: Continue reading
Wow! This post makes me realize how limited my experience is, since I’ve never been anyplace but the U.S. and Canada.
Sounds like Italy, in particular, would be a wonderful place to live life, especially for people of a certain age. But how would I ever adjust to being fashion-aware?
I didn’t wake up yesterday knowing I’d have the opportunity to take a picture of a Studebaker pickup truck. I didn’t even know that Studebaker MADE pickup trucks.
See, you never know what you might learn on any given day, and you never know what might happen next. Expect the unexpected. So here’s this shiny burgundy Studebaker pickup waiting for me in the church parking lot.
Which leads to the point of this post. Life is too short to waste it writing only serious blog posts. Going forward, I will give priority to posts and photos that make me smile. Or that surprise me with the unexpected. If there’s any time left over, I might write something serious.
Perhaps this editorial policy will make Life After 60 a more interesting blog, while not losing sight of the reality that ordinary Americans might still be making an unscheduled crash landing in a storm of economic change.
I see this concept of writing the fun posts first as a sign of maturity. Delayed gratification has its place. But since I’m an over-sixty Baby Boomer, and I’m not flying as high as I used to, it seems like a perfectly mature and logical decision to eat dessert first.
To put it another way, since I’m losing altitude, it makes perfect sense to start collecting Social Security at age 62. The economy being what it is, and with age discrimination being a fact of life, it’s not surprising that Social Security at 62 is a trend among my generation (folks who are old enough to remember, with a smile, the Studebaker, the Edsel, and the Rambler.)
Public Television broadcast a classic concert by “Peter, Paul, and Mommy” (aka Peter, Paul, and Mary) over the weekend.
PP&M topped off the concert with their three all-time-favorite American folk songs:
As the last notes echoed, Mary Travers delivered the trio’s classic statement of American values:
That was the signature close at the grand finale of PP&M concerts.
It would also be a good rallying cry for the Baby Boomer generation, to keep us focused and centered on core American values during the crazy 2010 election year, and all the unsettled years ahead.
– John Hayden
Let me humbly acknowledge: I have been shamefully neglecting “Life After 60,” the blog. This is because I’m too busy LIVING life after 60, the life.
Here are a few of the things I’ve been busy with:
Most recently, visited the Christmas Bazaar at my church, near the end of the second day of the event. They had marked everything down to half price. I bought two ancient commemorative tin wall hangings, one with a picture of JFK, the other with a picture of Jackie. They still have the original Hecht Co. price tags. Hecht Co. sold the plates for $1 each in 1977. I bought the pair for $1 at the church bazaar. What do you suppose they would fetch on eBay? (They’re not for sale at any price.)
Jack and Jackie and Hecht Co. have all passed on to their rewards. I am delighted to be living life, with my memory and my health still in good working order.
– John Hayden
Am I getting old? Or am I just getting lazy?
Sixty-something is one of those awkward stages in life. Like middle-school. Or kindergarten. Life is changing, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for change. Sometimes a kid feels like he can’t wait for kindergarten or middle school. Other times, the same kid wants everything to stay the same. Maybe we could put off kindergarten or middle school until next year? Probably not. Ready or not, change comes on its own schedule.
I think this particular awkward stage starts at around age 51. Am I middle-aged, or am I beginning to feel old? Is it my imagination, or is it really harder to land a job when you’re past 50?
The awkward stage gets discombobulating between 61 and 65. Those commercials on TV for miracle prescription drugs — are those commercials talking to me?
After you hit the big six-oh, it’s not so easy to pretend that you’re middle-aged. Lots of folks over 60 claim they don’t feel any different than they did in their 30s and 40s. (Let’s do a three-mile fun run. Let’s start a new business. Let’s visit China.) Are these folks in denial? Or do they just have younger genes than me?
At 61, I definitely don’t feel middle-aged anymore, and it’s definitely not easy to get a new job, or buy health insurance. But I won’t qualify full Social Security until age 66, and I don’t qualify for Medicare. I’m in between. It’s an awkward stage.
I still have responsibilities, work to do, but my short-term memory isn’t so reliable. I keep a list so I won’t forget anything important.
After breakfast, first thing I feel like is taking a nap. Is that a sign that I’m getting old? Or am I just getting lazy? Was I always this lazy? Maybe it’s depression? Or Seasonal Affective Disorder? Do they have a pill that will make me feel ready to take on the world?
I have to stop blogging now. Looking at the computer screen makes my eyes feel dry and scratchy. Yes, those commercials for soothing eye drops are talking to me.
Here’s my plan: One soothing drop in each eye. Look at the list to make sure there’s nothing that can’t be put off. Take a nap.
I’ll think about getting old tomorrow.
Folk singer Mary Travers passed away Wednesday. She was 72 and had suffered from leukemia.
Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow, and Noel “Paul” Stookey – Peter, Paul and Mary – came together in 1961 in Greenwich Village, and were advocates for peace, justice and equality for nearly half a century.
Mary once said, “We may have marched with Martin Luther King and sung “Blowin’ In The Wind” on the 1963 march on Washington — but we also sang it with Archbishop Tutu and in a political prison in El Salvador. We sang it over the grave of Andrew Goodman, one of the civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964 — and we sang it when an 8-year-old boy was killed by the Contras in Nicaragua.”
For more about Mary Travers’ life, and statements by Peter Yarrow and Noel “Paul” Stookey, click on www.peterpaulandmary.com.
Noel and Peter will carry on the work and the music, I believe.
Those of us who can remember the peace movement and the civil rights movement of the 1960s will have to put away the notion that we’re forever young, but Puff (The Mighty Dragon) will continue to roar.
I am a refugee from reality, if you call grinding work, urban congestion, and expensive lifestyle “reality.”
I began seriously losing speed and altitude in 2002, when I accepted a small buyout from a large company, at the age of 53. It was my last stop on a career of more than 25 years. My boss said I “had guts” because I was making a change in my 50s. I said, “Change is good.”
In the intervening years, I’ve made do with a variety of survival jobs in metro areas. Twice I stayed with the same job nearly two years. By the time I hit 60 (last summer), I felt like my job was killing me. The metro suburbs seemed more and more congested, stressful and expensive. There was no sense of community. It didn’t feel like a civilized way to live.
I thought all summer about escaping. In early September, I found an inexpensive and very small apartment in a beautiful area, at some distance from the big city. I gave two weeks notice. I spent October sorting and boxing possessions. What I didn’t need I gave away or tossed in the dumpster. Most of the large furniture went to good homes with relatives. A few boxes and chairs are stored in a relative’s basement.
What was left, was transported, with help from my brothers, in one pickup truck and three carloads, to the new apartment. I felt like a fugitive — a happy fugitive. I escaped in broad daylight.
It took most of November to get unpacked and settled in my new retreat. After 44 continuous years of paid work, from age 16 to age 60, I granted myself a winter off. Six months of leisure and freedom to partially restore body and soul. To be continued . . .
I have a picture in my mind of America as a high-flying jumbo jet with two powerful engines. One engine is American democracy, and the other is American capitalism.
Democracy and capitalism have served America well, but both engines are showing their age and in danger of burning out.
I could use the same metaphor for my own life’s trajectory, and I will. Flying at typical American cruising speed, I enjoyed moderate career success and a modest level of affluence. I lived the middle-class American lifestyle, credit cards and all. In my early 50s, I began to lose speed and altitude at an alarming rate. By the time I hit 60, I felt about burned out!
A lot of Americans in my age cohort (the baby-boomer generation) are in the same boat . . . make that the same airplane.
This “How To Make A Controlled Crash Landing” blog will attempt a serious but light-hearted commentary on the above phenomena — the faltering American political and economic systems, and the predicament of everyday Americans, particularly those of us who have reached a certain age.
It appears that mid-flight corrections are needed to save American democracy and capitalism. And many Americans are coping with unavoidable adjustments in the way we live. It’s called CHANGE. We’ll be talking about it a lot.
Personally, I’m trying to change my life in the direction of simplicity and frugality.
Posts to this blog will be frequent, short, and sweet. Period. Amen.
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