The New 60
BY Robert Levithan
February 28 2011 7:50 PM ET
I’m a petty, ungrateful, sniveling whiner. Reduced to self-pity by the flu. The co-diagnosis is entitlement. My perception has become so skewed that I perceive my high-octane life as a right — rather than a privilege. Whether I write this in dead seriousness or mere ironic dudgeon, how absurd my plaint!
Memory (probably inaccurate) tells me that I handled life-threatening illness with more grace. Why the big deal over the flu: I have had to cancel workshops; I have missed Broadway performances and publication parties. I have had to ask for help from friends and neighbors and colleagues. So?
There is a wise spiritual teacher who frames life’s challenges as ‘inconvenient’: I have been down-sized: Inconvenient. My child is in jail without bail: Very inconvenient. I have inoperable cancer: Very, very inconvenient. On this scale, the flu is a bad hair day.
My mind doesn’t follow this logic all of the time, however. While ill I was haunted by visions of a sudden decline into older age: Alone, living in a 4th floor walk-up, unable to care for my dog and feeling marginalized. The New 60 is based on taking those stairs two at a time and having what a friend described the other night as “ the best social network of anyone I know…”. Suddenly 2000 Facebook friends don’t seem as important as a spouse or an elevator.
Life is all perception. Today as my health has rebounded and I am feeling much better. I would like to skip over my less attractive musings of the past week, but they offer yet another fucking opportunity for growth: I am not as at ease with turning 60 as I would like to believe.
When I started writing this column 11 months ago, I think I assumed that by now I would have a new boyfriend, a new loft and a slightly used convertible. I have had a lot of fun this year, so far — traveling and falling in and out of love and lust. I have been expanding the scope of my professional life with this column and other endeavors. And, I have so much more work to do on myself…