by Seth Rogovoy
I turned sixty just about a half year ago, almost exactly on the day that the pandemic-induced lockdown began. The small party planned to mark this milestone was postponed, and the day itself came and went with little celebration. Instead, it marked the beginning of my four-month solo quarantine, until the day in July that my wife was finally able to leave New York City and join me in our now-permanent refuge upstate.
Nevertheless, sixty I still turned, and, aside from the fact that these have been the worst six months — societally speaking — since I was born, any worries I bore about reaching my seventh decade have so far been for naught. As I am wont to do in my patented approach to life—engaging the power of positive pessimism—I had mentally prepared for the worst and am now reaping the dividends that come with that life approach: things are not as bad as I had imagined they would be. Not yet, at least.
In fact, here are some good things about turning 60:
- No amount of peer pressure or social pressure can make me do anything I don’t want to do. At this point, no one expects me to change, so I can fully indulge all my irrational fears and foibles. For example, nothing and no one can make me go swimming. While I was born under the astrological sign of Pisces and my feet have a natural tendency to want to curl together, I can now maintain with great certainty until my dying day that water is too wet to swim in, and, Pisces or not, I am not a damn fish.
- I can walk or move as slowly as I like, and no one can say anything about it. “Can you walk a little faster?” one might ask me. “No, I can’t. I’m sixty,” is now my catchall refrain for refusing to do anything I don’t want to do.
- I have aged out of many of the expectations placed on men throughout their younger and middle years, especially those of other men. “Can you just grab that corner and help us lift this insanely heavy object?” is the kind of thing men are often asked to do. “No, I can’t. I’m sixty.” That shuts them right down.
- Now that I’m sixty, I have finally reached the point where the majority of people I meet and interact with are younger than I am. This is shocking and happened literally overnight. This time last year everyone I met seemed older than me. Now, suddenly, everyone in the world is twenty or thirty years younger than I am. This is a good thing because now it’s their turn to do everything and I can just relax and watch.
- Now that I am sixty, I have given up obsessing over all the things I supposedly need or want to accomplish in life. I’ve had a good run; I did a few good things; I have a few accomplishments to fill out a respectful obituary. From here on in anything I pull off is icing on the cake.
- Just waking up every day and getting out of bed without incident now counts as a half-day’s accomplishment. Making it all the way to bedtime without winding up in the emergency room is my daily hike up Mount Everest. So far, I am Sir Edmund Hillary.
- While I continue to work, I am now allowed to obsess over what life will be like when I retire. Given the nature of my work, life when I retire will probably look almost exactly the same as life looks now, except with the addition of a dog and a garden to tend. In fact, both of those things may come sooner rather than later and thus kick me into early retirement.
- I have all the clothes, shoes, and hats I want and need for the rest of my life, assuming they outlast me. Shopping no longer interests me, the latest fashion be damned.
- I no longer have to fake any interest in keeping up with pop culture. No self-respecting 60-year-old man has any business knowing what “WAP” stands for or who Megan Thee Stallion is.
- My intuition, sharply honed and developed to its apex over the decades, has become my superpower.
There are a few indignities, however—a few things I could live without:
- At my age, you get called “spry,” which is code for you have grey hair and, for the time being, you can walk unassisted.
- Friends, relatives, and peers around my age are starting to get sick and die with inordinate frequency.
- People much younger than I am increasingly accomplish the sort of things I wish I had done in my day, underlining the fact that time, to some extent, has passed me by.
- It’s been more than half my lifetime since the New York Mets last won the World Series. Billionaire Steven Cohen notwithstanding, there is little reason to believe I will ever see that happen again.