I’m turning sixty in the next week and I can hardly believe it. People who are sixty are not me. I can’t be sixty. I don’t look or feel sixty, at least in my mind. I’m married to a younger man that looks almost as young as he did when I met him 23 years ago. I pick my granddaughter up from school everyday and go to her school events just like I did when my kids were in school. I blend, bottle, label and sell a line of body care products. I’ve become quite adept at computer skills like web building, blogging, and social media. I have an ipod, iphone, and an imac. I listen to loud music and go to rock concerts on a regular basis. And I drive a hybrid car.
Sure, I have my personal challenges. A knee that acts up, little aches and pains, moving slower. But overall I’m healthy and I’m not on any medication. I’m still active, productive, and high functioning, in spite of my physical drawbacks.
On the other hand, turning sixty has its advantages. After being a hormonally crazed menopausal woman for 15 years, sixty is the time to emerge from that emotionally challenged period. You’re back. You’re energized. You’re ready to come out of your cave and get back into the world. To use your knowledge and wisdom for good. It’s a right of passage. You’ve become the Wise Crone.
Over the weekend, I attended two different concerts. They were artists from the 70’s; Leon Russell was the first one, Poco and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band the second. All three of these artists attracted the same audience, fifty and sixty something’s, just like me. Just like them. Even older maybe. I observed the oldsters as they arrived and found their seats in the venues. I’ve probably seen the same faces show up at concerts in KC for forty years. So many are familiar, very few unfamiliar. We don’t know each other, but yet we do.
I noticed we all have similar characteristics; lines and wrinkles in our changing faces; balding men with ponytails of varying shades of gray; larger physiques; rounding bellies; slight limps; leathery skin from too much sun; bifocals; cigarette stained fingers; scraggly facial hair; women with tell-tale roots in their dyed hair; worn concert t-shirts. Some younger fans, but not many. All there for the music. Flocking like moths to the flame, feeling like kids going to their first concert. Eager. Excited. Stoned.
At Leon Russell’s show at Knucklehead’s Saloon, I watched as two well-dressed couples worked their way through the noisy crowd of fans who were clapping and whooping it up to Leon’s honky tonk piano. These two couples weren’t your typical old hippies; they exuded wealth and privilege, but were there for the same reasons. The Music. The Magic of Leon’s voice and poetic lyrics. The Connection. The Community. The Tribe.
During both shows, I watched as men put their arms around women or held their hands as some song was transporting them back to their youths. Memories flooding in of what those melodies meant to them, what they represented in the weaving of their lives, bringing back those precious moments. Music does that.
I studied the glowing faces of the congregation as they left. Music their religion. Wishing there were more. Still buzzing. Smiling. Looks of satisfaction. High on the music. Tipsy on the beer. All their ailments and problems and challenges gone for a few hours.
So, I say sixty is the new fifty. My generation of oldsters and empowered dames are redefining sixty. We are a new lot. We’re not like the sixty year olds we remember when we were kids. We might be a little beat up, but our minds don’t know that. When we’re listening to our favorite song by our favorite musician with our favorite baby, we don’t care about the aches and pains. We are lost in the enchantment of the music that will never die. The 'rock and roll medicine' that soothes our souls. Being sixty ain’t so bad.