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Becoming Seventy: Five Reasons to Celebrate

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the prospect of joyful aging. She explores and shares habits of happy seniors.

On my close approach to seventy, the memory of a recurring dream surfaced. I was always afraid to come down—down a ladder, down a stairway, down a hill. The dream never registered the climb upward. It always began with the fear of descending. The rungs on the ladder were too far apart. The steps on the stairway needed repair. The hill was slippery. Falling seemed inevitable, and I always woke up fearful.

Whenever I told the dream, the listener would say, “Most people are trying to go upward, why are you trying to come down?” There never was an answer. Still, comparing my seventieth birthday to the top of the hill, I wondered what fears would possess me on the way down, and I discussed the dilemma with my friend, Ada (fictitious name).

“You’re doing it again,” she said matter-of-factly. “You’re too obsessed with coming down. Spend your time expressing gratitude for reaching the top of the hill. Celebrate. Enjoy the view. Paint the big picture for the young ones. Encourage the older ones on their way up. If you focus on being productive, coming down will happen naturally, peacefully.”

Photo Credit: 12019

Photo Credit: 12019

Acting on Ada’s advice, I begin near the top of the hill to make a preliminary gratitude list, beginning with:

  • The View from the Mountaintop
  • The Mountain Guides
  • The Scars
  • Inner Strength
  • The Supernatural

(1) The View from the Mountain Top

Clergyman Thomas De Witt preached the sermon that inspired my articles on Becoming Seventy. His sermon was based on Psalm 90:10 (New Living Translation) “Seventy years are given to us!” He explained the text the same way most people understand it, “The seventieth milestone of life is here planted as at the end of the journey.”

So for those who view life as an uphill climb, the mountain top represents age seventy. Talmage described the poise and mood of the celebrants. “You ought to feel like people toward the close of a summer day seated on the rocks watching the sunset.”

A sniff of the air on the mountain top inspires gratitude: for the privilege of living a full life; for the upward view of the heavens which after seventy years is still overwhelming; for the downward view of the hills and valleys symbolizing life’s struggles; for the surrounding view of natural resources to nourish life and the human fabrications which necessitated the climb. Add the rainbow colors of experiences, shaped by a variety of circumstances. Regardless of previous reactions, it is time to be grateful!

Time to be grateful.

Time to be grateful.

(2) The Mountain Guides

Parents and guardians were our first guides and they helped us make our first steps toward the climb. Their influence never left us, and we wish we had given them more thanks.

Then came teachers, preachers, doctors, counselors whom we respected and celebrated for their professional input. Some were nuisances, we thought, until we found out that they had given good directions and deserved more thanks.

Along the way, friends became family, confidantes and shoulders to lean on when we got tired. Some fell with us into the valleys and we developed character strengths by helping each other out.

Some guides appeared only once with a word we still remember. Some of these words came through books or on the lips of an actor in a play we watched. Here, near the mountaintop, a heap of gratitude wells up inside us, and we feel like saying thanks for something, anything, to everyone who enters our space.

(3) The Scars

It is doubtful that any human being could arrive at age seventy without some major fall in one or more of life’s pitfalls: financial incapability or loss, difficult relationships, addictions or any of the other thousand challenges which with life hits us hard enough to leave its mark. Some scars may be hidden so that only the scarred know where they are. Still, the memory of the injury and pain may surface from time to time.

So why are they on the gratitude list? Because scars speak to us about healing, survival, reality, strength, lessons lived and learned. All these are reasons to say thanks.

(4) Strength: Outer and Inner

In my youth, I wondered if I would look, and be, as well as some aging people I admired, when I reached their age. “Would I still be able to walk and swing my arms? Would I still drive myself and do my shopping? Gratefully, just a few steps from the mountain top, I still do. Not boasting, just registering my observation that I do not take these strengths for granted.

The big secret some of these elders share (and now I can relate) is that they do not always feel as strong as they look. The attitude of gratitude obscures their limps and staggers.

There is even more gratitude for inner strength—the courage to believe that the seventies can be productive; the resilience to rise above the doubts and regrets that surface with memories of negative happenings; the faith to maintain the outlook that life on the mountaintop can be not only endurable, but also enjoyable. This inner strength is continually renewed by the expression of thanks.

(5) The Supernatural

“What we all need is to take the supernatural into our lives,” preached Talmage. The *research shows that people are more accepting of spirituality as they age. They need divine help to cope with aging situations like the onset of physical and mental decline, loss of lifelong partners, and even as in my dream mentioned earlier, support to lean on as they descend the mountain.

  • Spirituality “creates a sense of meaning and coherence in one’s life that becomes especially important during the final stages of human development.” (J. W. Fowler, 1981 and L. Tornstam, 1997)
  • “It helps soothe fear and insecurity about one’s own mortality.” (K. E. Vail et al., 2009)

Some aging people are spiritual because they have been spiritual all their lives. They have always attributed protection, provision, success, wealth, and all types of daily blessings to the involvement of their God in their lives. This author joins this group in thanking Him first and last.

*Jackson, Steve: Why Are Old People So Religious? (verified by Psychology Today 02/16/2016)

Related Articles

  • Becoming Seventy: Looking Back at Past Decades
    Revisiting past decades boosts our sense of appreciation. The brief reflections will encourage us, as well as those who have passed seventy, to embrace the privilege of future birthdays with joy.
  • Becoming Seventy: The Age of New Beginnings
    Times have changed. Today's average woman in her seventieth year is still becoming old, although her grandmother at that same age was already very old. We look briefly at some issues in her new world.
  • Becoming Seventy: Holding on to Real Beauty
    "My beauty will last as long as I live; No dwindling of charm you will see. I have found a way to boost my appeal As the years take their toll on me." All older people can benefit from this perspective.

© 2019 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 11, 2019:

Linda, I'm still thinking about how blessed I am to be this age, and have the ability to enjoy it. Thanks for allowing me to share.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 11, 2019:

This is a lovely article, Dora. It contains much to think about and is inspirational at the same time.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 01, 2019:

Thanks, Tim. You made good point about expressing thanks at any age. Yet, during our prime years, many are either too busy or unaware. Your comment encourages us to the time.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on April 01, 2019:

Thank you, Ms. Dora. There is much here to think about. I look at the scars and say: Thank you Lord! I made it through! All of these are wonderful things for people at any age to give serious thought. You explained and expressed everything beautifully, which is a hallmark of your writing.

Thanks again, Ms. Dora. May your day be blessed.

Sincerely,

Tim

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 17, 2019:

Lawrence, I'm happy to hear that the workers in their eighties are appreciated. Make good use of their wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on February 14, 2019:

MsDora

Thank you for this reflection, it was very moving.

I've got a couple of friends at work who are in their eighties, still working, loving every second of it and everyone values their guidance at times.

Thank you for the insight on how they see things.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 24, 2019:

Heidi, thanks for joining me on this trail. I love your metaphor for life. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 24, 2019:

Mark, thanks for your gracious comment. You encourage me.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 24, 2019:

Antonio, thanks for your insightful contribution to the topic.

Heidi L Mair from Seattle on January 24, 2019:

Thank you for sharing your impressions and insights on reaching 70. I have not used the metaphor of reaching the mountain top before. But it is a potent and provocative way to view aging.

I often see life as a pathway through a beautiful forest. We turn and look away for brief moment and another loved one has left the trail. Sometimes we come upon lovely ponds full of wildlife, other times we witness harsh forest fires. We do not know when we will leave the trail. And new people join us on our journey each and every day.

Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on January 23, 2019:

This one a keeper for its valuable insights.

Antonio50S on January 22, 2019:

That ( Psalms 90:10 ) sermon by "Thomas De Witt" is interesting.

The verse says "Seventy years are given us" but really saying, even if they should reach "eighty" or even 90 or 100, they are mainly filled with pain and trouble, but verses 12, 14, & 15 "nlt" shows where Joy, Satisfaction & Wisdom comes from in the latter years.

By teaching us the ( brevity ) of life, God teaches us how to grow in wisdom, which leads to Joy & satisfaction.

Quote, yours.

"It is important that our audience sees us moving on cheerfully"

They maybe the best words made anywhere for a long time.

That's one big reason the bible says not to forsake the gathering. Being in the company of imperfect people with issues, along with all the biblical teachings & principles is what makes us reach the top of that mountain. "It's the irritations in others that makes us grow" and when the audience see that, it gives hope. It demonstrates far higher ways & laws from above which shows how mankind can live together in peace in a better world to come. ( Daniel 2:44 )

The cap or corner stone that the builders rejected has & will become the corner stone in the end.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 21, 2019:

Ah, Denise. I do identify with your sense of visibility. It is important that our audience sees us moving on cheerfully. We live for their encouragement as well as our satisfaction. Thanks for your input.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on January 21, 2019:

I rounded the bend at 60 this past year, and I feel much like you, that I am ascending a steep mountain. I am more visible to those around me than I remember being in the past. There is no place to hide. My weaknesses and imperfections are available for all to see, and my accomplishments are blared abroad without my knowledge. I have a friend who just turned 70, and she has expressed much the same sentiments that you do here. It won't be long, and I will be joining you at the top of that mountain. But then, I just might see you on your way down!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 21, 2019:

Chitrangada, it is impossible to live this long and not have to forgive and be forgiven. Forgiveness is surely another reason to be grateful. Glad for the way the article affected you. Thanks for sharing.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 21, 2019:

This is such a beautiful, insightful and thought provoking article!

Your article mentions some valuable points about graceful aging. It’s amazing, how we mature with age and develop the feeling of gratitude, for everyone, who has touched our lives, at some point of time. I believe, the best part is, we learn to forgive.

There are so many takeaways from your article, for which I feel grateful to you.

Thanks for sharing!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 19, 2019:

Kathy, a gratitude journal is good for anyone, but especially the older folks. And as for grandchildren, they remind us that we're aging, but they also give us reason to live. Thanks for your input.

Kathy Burton from Florida on January 18, 2019:

Thanks for the article on aging with gratitude. This article reminded me to find my gratitude journal and go back to listing at least three things I am grateful for daily. There is so much to be grateful for including just being here. I have found that having our first grandchild has been a stark reminder of my mortality juxtaposed to my renewed vitality. Thanks for sharing your grace and wisdom with us.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 18, 2019:

True, Devika. Hopefully, we will learn as we age to be grateful for life and all that comes with it. Aging is more desirable, for most of us, than the alternative.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 18, 2019:

Rajan, thanks for your favorable summary of this article. Acceptance and gratitude in the aging seems beautiful to me. I appreciate your contribution.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 18, 2019:

Antonio, thanks for your input. The quote from 2 Corinthians 4:16 is one of my favorites on aging.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 18, 2019:

People when older fail to see their different lifestyles. The older they get the less they try and in this way tend to lose tract of what most matters. Gratitude is not always on their list.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 18, 2019:

A very interesting breakup of one's life journey. Acceptance and gratitude are what essentially come through this useful article. Thank you for this.

Antonio50S on January 17, 2019:

Just picking up on yours and Eric's comment. Coming down that hill can be part of the growth process as well.

As Paul said, "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" ( 2 Cor 4:16 ) Peoples circumstances throughout the world is different, but it's hard knowing how well we are doing "untill coming down that hill"

No matter what situation any of us are facing in life ( good or bad ) we should always ( keep our Eyes on the Prize ) And though the Vision in ( Habakkuk 2:3 ) is for an appointed future time, and may appear slow in coming, "It will not be delayed" that vision can be appreciated more under hardships.

No words that's ever come out of God's mouth has failed yet.

( Very Good article Msdora )

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 16, 2019:

Eric, your boy is observant and wise beyond his years. Hope I can encourage your fear away. The mountain top is created for our enjoyment. Take my hand!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 16, 2019:

Hmm? I suppose that because I have come to hope that Heaven has challenges. I am afraid to reach the top of our mountain. So I am so grateful that you give me a hand up.

Thank you for so much to think on.

P.S. my boy and I were practicing our rock climbing last Saturday. And just looked at me and said "Dad it is a lot harder coming down".

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Mary, like it is says on the poster quote, "Scars means you lived." Pity those who don't last long enough to get some.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Liz, I'm taking this with me: "The best is yet to come." That deserves gratitude in advance. Thanks for the insight.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 15, 2019:

Hi Ms. Dora,

Gratitude is important at any age but as you say, we not have realized how much we were touched by someone at the time.

I 'm pleased to see you included 'the scars', as most people don't see them as 'a positive' yet we all have them in one form or another.

A very inspired and thought provoking article.

Thanks

Liz Westwood from UK on January 15, 2019:

I especially like the gratitude angle. It's always a good exercise to look back and be grateful or, count your blessings. In any case, whatever lies behind or before us, the best is yet to come!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Liz, you encourage me. I think that part of my mission is to convince people that they can enjoy life in their old age.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Thanks, Shauna. I receive that joyfully.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 15, 2019:

This is an inspiring and thought-provoking article. You give some great insights into life and living.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 15, 2019:

Dora, your perspective on reaching 70 is beautiful.

I have a feeling you'll be hanging out on the top of the mountain for a while before you make your journey down the other side.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Bill, you're a burst of sunshine on the mountaintop. Your gratitude is obvious in your willingness to teach and share with others.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Bill, your kind words inspire me to continue living and pursuing God's purpose for my life. Happy to have met you on the way.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Flourish, I believe that. Having a reason to live will help you enjoy life. Hope your grandmother can experience a breakthrough and begin to really live.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

John, I'm excited about getting there. So many other guides have helped me.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Thanks for your encouragement, Sylvia. Happy that you read and commented.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2019:

Hi Pam, I'm not sure about the interpretation of that dream, but I have an opinion and it does have to do with aging, but the memory surfaced as I was thinking about this article.

Thanks for sharing from your journey. You're certainly an encouragement to me. "It is not so bad." I'll take your word for it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2019:

Honestly I'm amazed to be standing on this mountaintop. I never thought I would be. Gratitude is easy for me, Dora! I defied the odds and found happiness and love.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on January 15, 2019:

Your wisdom shines through again. If one thing stands out as you approach seventy is your wisdom and the way you express it. Thank you so much for being you!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 14, 2019:

The dream was very telling and something we can all relate to. I love your outlook on 70 and aging. I imagine that you will be vibrant and active for many years. My husband’s 85 year-old is a nun, technically retired, but still volunteering in her old job part-time working with Alzheimer’s patients in a nursing care facility. I compare her vivacity to that of my grandmother (just a little older) who is bored with life and cannot care for herself. So much boils down to having a purpose, feeling gratitude and wanting to give back.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on January 14, 2019:

Some great insights here MsDora. A very good guide to us as we approach the top of the mountain.

Sylvia Sky from USA on January 14, 2019:

This wisdom is much appreciated, Ms. Dora.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 14, 2019:

Dora, As I have already recently crossed that mountain top I find my spirituality is still intact and gets me through any tough days. I have found that gratitude is good, and there are not as many big deals as there use to me. It is not so bad. I can still buy groceries too.

I do wonder why you always dreamed of the fear of going down hill. I doubt that was related to aging, but I certainly don't know. Have a good week Dora.