Sixty Things I’ve Learned in 60 Years, Part 1

You would think — wouldn’t you? — that I’ve managed to learn one thing a year in my lifetime.  As my 60th birthday approaches, I’m working on a list:

1) People have been complaining about the younger generation and how different it is from its predecessors since the beginning of time.  By and large, I don’t agree.  Take away the Iphones and the texting and other eye-catching changes — and you see they’re still living out the same stories of love and ambition and regret and uncertainty as we did.  And our parents …

2) I regret having ever voted for Joe Lieberman for anything, including the vice-presidency.  What a disloyal, despicable creep.  On the other hand, I couldn’t have voted for Dick Cheney, for God’s sake.

3) Just because badly out-of-shape men can take their shirts off in Central Park doesn’t mean they should.

4) I am wondering whether some of the zealots who badgered me about for supporting Obama, instead of Hillary (“Well, I guess you don’t really care about having a woman president the way I do,” one of them said huffily during a downward dog) are going to be supporting Sarah Palin now.  Or don’t they care about having a woman president?

5) Sixty is not the new 40.  In fact, it’s not even the new 50.

6) I’m fortunate to have very few regrets in my life.  I do regret not slowing down to enjoy my children more when they were younger, though.

7) Paul was always the most talented Beatle.

8) There’s a peacefulness and contentment to getting older that I never anticipated.  You never believe you can be happy when you’re not young till you get there.  I mean, here.

9) I refuse to lie about my age — and wipe out the experiences I’ve had and the times I’ve lived in.  In fact, the older I get, the more I hate lying.

10) I can’t think of anything sadder than a woman who doesn’t trust other women and doesn’t have good women friends.

11) Does Sarah Palin have good women friends?  Somehow, I doubt it.

12) I don’t know what inane yogi first thought of the comment, “If you fall during a pose, it’s not a big deal.”   Well, it IS a big deal, you asshole.

13) I’ve always thought 9/11 and a cancer diagnosis were very similar.  You think they mark a “before” and “after.”  You think you’re forever changed.  You think irony is dead.  The truth is, if you survive the ordeal, you will find yourself depressingly as you once were after the months and years pass.  But at least irony isn’t dead.

14) Sixty isn’t so bad, as long as you’re able to ignore the fact you’re halfway between 40 and 80.

15) I do think I’m much wiser than I used to be.  I’m just not as fast.

16) Whoever said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” probably didn’t stay married long.

17) The truth is, love means having to constantly say you’re sorry.  Got that?

18) The chair position in yoga is painful and challenging.  Just try to remember it will come in handy some day when you visit Third World bathrooms.

19) Never, ever begin a sentence with, “Now, don’t take this personally, but … ”

20) Cover your mouth when you yawn.

21) The older you get, the fewer frenemies you will have.  Somehow, toxic people lose their appeal and their hold on you.

22) At some point in life, you begin to realize that the biggest talkers produce the smallest amount of results.

23) There are no rules for writing.  If something works for you, keep on doing it till it doesn’t work.  Then come up with a new rule.

24) Good can come out of heartbreak — as long as it opens your heart to other people’s troubles.

25) The minute you’re diagnosed with cancer, people start telling you how “brave” you are.  This is sweet, but rather naive.  It’s not like you have a choice or anything.

26) On the other hand, some of your truly bravest moments — like dealing with depression — will pass unnoticed.  Nobody but you will have an inkling of how much courage it takes to get through those long, dark nights of the soul.

27) Anybody who thinks progress is bad never worked as a secretary in the old days of erasers and carbon paper.

28)  Will somebody explain to me why Ayn Rand appeals to anybody above the age of 21 who isn’t non compos mentis?

29) At very low points in my life, friends have made a difference simply by being there and letting me know they cared.  I’ll never forget this — and try to remind myself that simple gestures can make a world of difference.  I want to be that kind of friend.

30) If you’re going to complain, you should try to make it funny.  Otherwise, you’ll lose your audience.

To be continued tomorrow …

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker, age 59.999999)

Read one of my favorite posts about what our holiday lights say about us

23 comments… add one
  • Awesome; can’t wait for the rest!
    Especially love 12, 18, 24 and and 26.

  • I just loved this list. Can’t wait to read the other half. So true about “sorry.” Maybe true love is never hesitating to say you are sorry? Not sure.

  • Cindy A Link

    Great list!  Also:

    Being right is not as important as you think.

  • This is wonderful!  I’ll be coming back for the next thirty.

  • ruthpennebaker Link

    I’m just hoping I can come up with the next 30, now that I’ve committed myself.

  • Great list, Ruth. I so want to do yoga with you.

  • Isn’t sixty the new 40? Seriously, I love this list!

  • Ruth, are you living inside my head? I’ve been thinking about #s 16 and 17 since…well, since about the second year of marriage.

  • Sheryl Link

    This is the best list I’ve seen in…50+ years.
    Especially touching and something I totally relate to to me are numbers 25 and 26. Espcially true are all the others you so brilliantly share! Here’s one of mine: It’s not what you look like but what you say that will stick in people’s minds.

  • Agree with you about Paul.

    I think these must have been hard to come up with! Last year I made my grandmother a list of 99 things I learned from her (for her 99th bday) and it was HARD to make a list so long!

  • This list is an inspiration to me, especially the part about taking solace and enjoying growing older AND about not lying about your age. Someone recently told me I looked 10 years younger (because I was pregnant) and I felt miffed. I don’t want to look 10 years younger. I am very happy looking my age (I turned 40 in July). And I never ever want to dye my hair…

  • How could I not vote for 8 as my favorite?  Being older is so very different from what the media would have people believe.

  • Winston Link

    Oooo, you are brave!  I’m not reconciled to jotting any birthday lists yet. But I’ve got a few years before any milestones.  Who would want to read a list with only 58 items anyway?  58– it seems so incomplete, so uncelebratory.  Maybe I’ll wait until I’m 75, a festive milestone with all the diamond jubilee imagery and all that decorating the page.  I can throw a party!  Invite 75 guests.  Pass around a scroll and ask each reveler to write one thing they’ve learned from ME!   Those who draw a blank don’t get any cake.
    Regarding  items 16 & 17:
    Back in the day when I came along, I observed that in all strong marriages, the menfolk devoted their lives to saying “I’m sorry,”  while the women devoted their lives to graciously accepting apologies, and everyone lived happily ever after, until death did ’em apart.

  • I love this list so, so much. For me, right now, numbers 6 and 8 particularly appealed to me – but everything is wise and rings true. Thank you! I can’t wait for the rest!

  • Ruth, I hope you had the happiest of birthdays. What a great list — I’m particularly partial to the Palin comments (you have read my mind).

  • Oh, Ruth, I do love you! There is not one single item in this list that I would disagree with. Except to add to #27, stencils and their ghastly pink, foul-smelling correction fluid ….

  • What fun! And I love that I get to start my day thinking about the Beatles.

  • This list is so diverse! You cover so many areas of life. Terrific … going to read the second part!

  • Great list! Particularly #23, 25, and 27.

  • “12) I don’t know what inane yogi first thought of the comment, “If you fall during a pose, it’s not a big deal.”   Well, it IS a big deal, you asshole.”
    LOVE THIS. So freaking true.

  • Amazing list. Plenty of thoughtful insights, but I must admit the guy in Central Park sans shirt made me laugh the most!

  • I love it!  So true… it makes you laugh at the thought of crying because life is life… so live it.

  • So many comments on your list that reasonated with me that I found myself nodding my head in agreement. I can relate. The description of some blogs sounds good but there’s nothing there to bring me back. I end up skipping new posts for weeks on end. “I don’t have time,” I tell myself. What I’m really saying is, “They aren’t worth my time.” Yours is one blog I’ll look forward to!!!

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