“Sixty is the new thirty!”

“… progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Ahem. At this time I would like to present to you the 600 year-old tree of Deception Pass, Washington. I’m pretty sure there is no one out there who believes this tree was better at 300 than 600, right? I bet there’s no one who would try to “compliment” this tree by telling her she looks just like she did when she was a sapling. I mean, who would want to see this tree go back to her seed? Isn’t she beautiful in her fullness of age?!


photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

It would be an understatement to say that I am now closer to sixty than thirty. And as I openly contemplate what this means to me, more than one person has informed me that “sixty is the new thirty” – like this is a good thing. But – oh lord! – I do not want to be thirty again.Seriously. I mean, really, who WOULD want to go backwards? Who would want to take retrograde steps? Who would want to regress? That person I was at thirty – I liked her – she was well-intentioned, sweet, idealistic – but I wouldn’t want to be her again – I wouldn’t want to have to go through those same lessons again or deal once again with the vanity, insecurity, and female rivalries. I have finally reached a place where I no longer spend my days worrying about ridiculous stuff like wrinkles on the brow and pounds on the scale. I have made it to the other side of caring about that crap. And there is a lovely freedom in that.

I love my spiritual development – why would I want to wish away the progress in my life?

        “In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown.” – Mary Baker Eddy


8 thoughts on ““Sixty is the new thirty!”

  1. I mis-read ” fulfil” as “funfetti” I think I need more coffee.

    Birthdays are good for your health, the more you celebrate the longer you live. My grandmother, now 94 is a good example of this, she’s embraced 94, she will proudly tell you how old she is (and then demand her senior discounts, or your seat on the bus), she celebrates each and everyone of her passing years with friends (and wine).

    I agree, I don’t want to go “back” to my 30s either, I just got to them! I look forward to experiencing/embracing this new decade as one of growth and change and maybe figuring out what I want to do with my life (although that could take a few more years.. maybe by the time I’m nearing 60, by then I hope to have changed from how I am now…). As for the tree, I’m sure it looked great 300 years ago too.

  2. Interesting, Karen. I’ve been taking the opposite approach. I’ve been running something lately that I dub “The Wayback Machine”. Peabody, here. I’ve set the dial to “1981”, and am attempting to go there physically, emotionally, and mentally.

    No, I don’t expect to wake up one day and find Ronald Reagan president, disco still on the radio (it would be bittersweet seeing Robin Williams still on Mork & Mindy….).

    For the past year, I’ve been asking myself, “Who am I?” I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve even tried simplifying it: “What do I like to do?” That too, is tough.

    At some point during my marriage, I drifted from having a “self”-identity to having an “us”-identity. I didn’t mind, or even notice. One thing that I KNOW I like to do is “share”. I enjoy cooking and eating, playing games (board, card, word, you name it) and having adventures. But having people in my kitchen, mixing and tasting and chopping and tossing a salad, or just keeping me company is heaven. Sharing said meal…, divine. A game without company is just a puzzle. And adventures — those are what binds. Ones where everything goes right evokes a shared smile; ones where everything goes wrong is the stuff of legend, and shared laughter over the memory.

    But now I’m no longer part of an “us”, and I seem to have forgotten who “me” was. So I’m recreating all the trappings to find out. In the process, I’m dumping all the *baggage* — the GARBAGE — that somehow accumulated over the years, trash that should have been taken out years ago, but no one could decide who would do it, or if perhaps the other person was holding onto it for some reason.

    So I’m heading back to my weight back then (so far, 50 lbs has disappeared into the future / past (depending on one’s reference frame — time travel is hard on grammar). I shaved off the grey beard that I’ve had for 25 years, and in so doing shaved 10 years off my appearance.

    Back then, a bicycle was my primary mode of transportation, but after 30 years of having twice as many wheels as needed, I again own something with only two (it’s true what they say — you don’t forget). I’m loving it. I can’t believe how happy and relaxed I am when riding. Too bad we’re heading into ice/snow season.

    I’m working on studying Tai Chi again, although it harder in the East than in the West. They seem to think that Tai Chi is for old people; seems like the only classes offered are on Tuesdays at 1:30 or some such. It might be better if I were to go into Philadelphia, but that’s a good hour away. Here in the sticks (Styx?), the Amish neighbors aren’t that into eastern martial arts. Go figure.

    Community theater (I work the house, or back stage; I don’t tread the boards) — anything and everything that I remember doing and enjoying back before I met my ex.

    In short, I’m “turning my life around”. What does “around” mean, but backwards?

    I’m not ditching everything, of course. I’m better off financially than I was then (although even then, I was putting ~40% of my earnings into savings, and have been doing again since she left; I still can’t figure out why it seemed like WE couldn’t save much.) My children I won’t lose, nor would I want to “undo” them. Nor can I undo all of the scars, and probably none of the learning that I’ve managed since that time. (Although sometimes it seems like some of that knowledge is going away all by itself. Yikes).

    So there’s a lot of good stuff I’m hanging on to, too.


    It isn’t that I want to act like a child (although I was in my early 20’s in 1981), I want to **BE** a child. In his book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, Robert Fulghum wrote of one of the differences between being an adult and being a kindergartner. You ask a kindergartner questions like:

    “Can you draw?” — “Yes!” is the enthusiastic reply.
    “Can you sing?” — “Yes!”
    “Can you dance?” — “Yes”.

    Ask almost any adult the same questions, and the answers usually comes out, “Well, no, not really….”. So what happened? What turned that unabashed, unafraid youngster into this timid, embarrassed adult?


    Time to accumulate moss. To get bumped and bruised from constant rolling. Or to stop rolling at the bottom of some hill, or maybe just a ditch.

    It’s tempting to set that dial on the Wayback to even further back, to that time when friendships were formed just by saying ‘Hi’. But the Wayback is powered by courage and imagination. I can imagine living like that, but I admit to being a bit of a chicken. 1981 is enough, for now. Once I’m there, then I’ll see where I want to go next.


    Of course, Karen, you don’t need the Wayback Machine. You’ve kept young at heart and mind and body (within limits, of course). So I fully understand why you wouldn’t want to be 30 again, and why you are quite happy being not-yet-60.

    The Wayback Machine does work both ways, of course. Once I’ve undone the past, I can plot a course for a new future in the present.


  3. Kat’s misreading of funfetti painted a picture of confetti all pink and yellow and blue and red floating down and embracing me in fun!

    And Allen! My goodness what a beautiful expression of yourself! Although (to answer your rhetorical question), I don’t think “around” necessarily means backward. I think you are presenting around as an active circle…motion with no beginning, no end. You are still Allen, just meeting yourself again as you travel Life.

    My husband used to ask me if it wouldn’t be fun to be a teenager again! Ogawd NO! Been there, done that, got the tee shirt and threw it away. And he would laugh when I said I was going to live at least to 120. (Genisis:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.) I know, I know, that’s a very literal translation, but…hey.
    I used to do something…baking, making pickles, salad dressing, homemade noodles for example, and then get tired of it, yet kept on doing it until one day I realized if I give up the old there will be room for something new. And sure enough that’s what happens. So now I can say I have done lots of things and enjoyed each in its turn and yet not mourned its dismissal. It’s the thought that counts cliche is very, very true in this gift-giving to myself.

    “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age….Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.” Mary Baker Eddy.

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