Aging Gracefully

I recently turned 60, and I am feeling old.  I can’t run as fast. My arthritis kicks in regularly. And I have trouble sleeping most nights.

But getting older is also changing the way I see the world–and myself.

For example, I am beginning to hate the word “nice.”

Being nice started early in my life, when I heard my mother (even when she wasn’t around), saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So, I became quiet.

Not a bad philosophy I suppose, but if you’re not careful, being nice can translate into don’t confront, don’t disagree, and don’t speak your mind. All dangerous.

When I left the newspaper I worked for in the early ’90s, the editor said: “All the niceness has now left the office.” She meant it as a compliment, but I knew better. Journalists need sharp edges.

Turning 60 also means letting go of lots of baggage, like worrying what people think. I have a long way to go, though. Last night when someone complimented me on a recent story I’d written, I made excuses about an editor changing the first paragraph because I was over the word count. Instead of simply saying, “thank you,” I felt the need to explain why it wasn’t perfect.

The old ego kicking in again. You’d think after all these years……

My goal for aging gracefully is to practice humility and “be enough.” Ben Franklin once said, “a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”

Hey, I might even start sleeping better.