It seems like we measure our lives by the milestones of each decade. You know, when you hit 20 you’ve almost made it to adulthood; reaching 30 brings the prime of life; you hit 40 and you start looking back a little where you’ve been and decide where you want to go; age 50 is still the big ONE; and hitting 60, well that’s just a whole other ballgame. I have a few thoughts on it since I am trying out the big 6-0 this year, like I have a choice anyway.
For me, turning 60 is like reaching that age that you never thought you personally would hit. It was always your friends, your aunts and uncles, everybody but you. However, it’s not really so bad because there are definitely some perks. Being 60 is the new 40. For one thing, that word retirement isn’t just a dream anymore, it becomes very real and puts you at a crossroads in your life. Retirement no longer means gracefully sliding into a life of doing nothing, but rather for many it means trading one career for another. You can say good-bye to that good job that helped raise the kids and put them through college, pay off the mortgage and a host of other things but at the same time was maybe not so much fun or too demanding. In its place you can work at something that feeds your passions that you actually enjoy.
Still, being 60 for me is a time at looking where I have been and looking forward to where I want to go. You can’t go down this path without visiting some of the changes that have taken place, some have sneaked up on me and some haven’t been so subtle. Here are just a few that have me thinking OMG!
1. Everyone has probably heard the country song “Where Corn Don’t Grow.” I’d be willing to bet there has never been a teenager who couldn’t wait to leave where he/she grew up and experience a whole new lifestyle. I was no exception as I couldn’t wait to get away from the farm and all the work. Now I love nothing more than digging in the dirt and writing about those who make their living from farming to feed everyone.
2. Everyone complains about inflation. I remember commuting to and from community college. During my last semester gas prices went up to the then unheard of price of 35 cents per gallon. I had no idea how I was ever going to afford that outrageous price. How we’d love to try that out again.
3. Growing up, it was unusual to see bare skin. Girls wore shorts and dresses down to the knee and showing cleavage was just not done. Then the mini skirt hit in my growing-up era and no one knew what the world was coming to. Some things just don’t change because it is still rare to see bare skin, you just can’t find it under all the tattoos!
4. It was rather risqué if you had multiple piercings. However, back then that meant two or more in one ear lobe. Today multiple piercings mean at least four or more body parts are displaying silver and gold.
5. Pot was something you peed in or put a plant in, you certainly didn’t smoke it.
6. Back to farming, the “big” farmer was the exception, not the norm. If someone had a corn planter that planted more than eight rows at a time, he was in the big league. Now most farm equipment is computerized so the farmer has soil and planting stats at his fingertips. Farm equipment my dad used is collected and restored for antiques. Weeds and pests are controlled by applying chemicals throughout the planting season. Gone are the days of cultivating row upon row upon row of corn and beans. There were many a summer day I sat on the old Farmall C tractor, cultivating two rows at a time. I never did quite master turning so you wouldn’t pull out any stalks of corn. I am sure to this day that my dad counted the stalks on the headlands before I started and when I was done. I am also sure those numbers never matched.
7. Who would have thought that we would be buying water? I remember going to the flea market in Shipshewana, Indiana, when we were going through a drought in the late 1980s. I had never seen concession stands selling bottled water and now we consider it the norm. And what about all the flavored water? When did water stop being just water?
8. We always had our own meat from the farm as children so steaks were as common to us as hamburger was. I remember being appalled at seeing prices of more than $4 per pound for steaks in the grocery store. Now we are paying more than that for hamburger.
Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ll bet our parents wondered what was going to become of all of us using cell phones. Their parents wondered the same about cordless phones. One thing about milestone birthdays is that they make you pause and see how far you have come (hopefully) and take stock of where you want to go.
Just some food for thought, what changes will we see when my generation hits 70? Hopefully, I’ll let you know in 10 years.