I’m about to turn 70. By any measure I’m getting “up there,” an “older person,” who is “retired.” It’s no surprise, then, that I’ve become interested in how we talk about age, especially after reading Marc Blesoff’s thoughtful essay in Wednesday Journal [A day of ageism, like any other day, Viewpoints, Feb. 8].

I’m a little tongue-in-cheek here, but the term “advanced aliveness” has the virtue of lacking bias. I feel ageism in every alternative term.

Advanced Aliveness can be looked at as a positive, not negative, experience.

•      We are (more) comfortable in our own skin.
•      We know our strengths and weaknesses.
•      We know how to say no, and when to say yes.
•      We know the deep joy of family; we cherish our friends.
•      We know (mostly) what we believe, and what we don’t.
•      We have memories to be proud of.
•      We are interested in learning new things and having new experiences.
•      We’ve known some great people.
•      We look further than skin deep; we pick up on immaturity and insolence.
•      We know we can be fooled so we try hard not to be.
•      We enjoy familiarity with a broad range of topics and hobbies.
•      We think deeply about difficult topics such as death and democracy.
•      We take ethics seriously and understand that individual behavior matters.
•      We Boomers endured (and thrived) in an environment of technological change unprecedented in human history. We’ve gone from mainframes to quantum computing in the blink of an eye.
•      We get it that, even though we all know much more, we may not understand much more.
•      We (often) have patience.
•      We (frequently) find joy in being alive.
•      We know the value of peace and stability, as well as creativity and surprise.
•      We don’t try to fix everything, but we fix everything we can.

Youth is overrated. Being young can be hard, adolescence difficult, and teen years horrible. Self-doubt, lack of confidence — even the early 20s can be shaky.

Age 30-60 are the greatest decades for productivity, accomplishment, and family. Are the last 20 just decline? Truthfully, our bodies tell a story. The cells of the body always seek balance. As we age, it is harder for the balance to be maintained. We injure more easily and are slower to heal, our joints wear out, and we are immunologically vulnerable. We feel aches and pains; we suffer ailments and illness.

But there is so much more to these years. While our bodies begin their life-long transition toward irrecoverable imbalance, the mind and heart can undergo a renaissance.

Let’s stop thinking about the gathering of years as decline and loss. Instead, let’s accumulate more aliveness.

Karen Morris Muriello is an Oak Park resident.

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