I admit I was not sure how I would feel when I turned that magical early retirement age of “62” this past February. Would I crumble into a quivering, weeping mass decrying the fact that my life had flown by so swiftly? Would I stoicly put on my best smile and ignore that this day – a day that never crossed my mind in years past – had finally arrived? Would I celebrate the fact that I was still alive and ticking along?
I think it was a combination of the three emotions. Of the three, though, “stoically putting on my best smile and ignoring the day” was probably my least visited reaction. I began preparing myself some time ago when I backed off my pledge to “never belong to AARP” or accept senior discounts. I was adamant that I would never belong to a group of “old fogeys” like those who cherished their AARP memberships. And, I thought how undignified to take a discount like a beggar just because I happened to hit a certain age.
Woila! I now do both. AARP has some good deals and great publications and those small discounts can add up. I will never forget my summer just out of high school, our class president, Mick Bishop, was killed in a car accident. Not quite 18, a gifted athlete headed to the Univeristy of Arizona on scholarship, he was snuffed out just like that. The funeral was terribly sad – as all funerals are – but my thought was about the shortness of his life.
I looked at obituaries for ages at death – not often – but I remember when I saw someone who had died at 30 or above I thought, “That person had a full life.” What a difference aging makes to one’s mindset! I began pushing that “full life” fallacy higher and higher as I climbed the rung of age.
Now 70 seems young, and when I hit 70, 80 will seem young. But, the most exciting thought that raced through my mind at 62 was a flash of freedom. A flash that came with the realization that I could “early retire.” Debate if you will whether or not social security is good or evil. Debate if you will whether or not Social Security is broke or going broke. Debate if you will how long I may or may not be able to draw the pension. Debate if you will whether or not it is socialism. But the fact is, at 62 one can still early retire albeit with a smaller pension than if one waited until full retirement age.
Just for the record, I am not retiring and will, more than likely, work until my full retirement age of 66. Who knows, maybe even longer. So, gradually over the years I have conditioned myself to the fact that I am growing old. I have accepted that mentally I still feel at the top of my game, but physically that game is slowing down. I take longer working around my home. I take longer doing outside chores. I get tasks done, but dog gone it, I just take longer.
My 62nd birthday definitely put a whole new spin on my “oldness.”