For thousands of years, people didn’t know what it meant to be 70-years-old. Large, surly animals, rotted teeth, and the plague were all standing by to end life well before that magic number. If you are inclined to believe the bible, a man named Methuselah lived 969 years. Meth, as he was affectionately called, was the grandfather of Noah and, most likely thousands of other people as well. He fathered Lamech when he was 187 years old. Lamech fathered Noah when he was 182 years old. Noah, himself, was 600 years old when the Flood appeared. If all these numbers are bunching up in your brain, causing it to forget simple things like where the remote is, you are in luck. Since the bible, no one has lived nearly that long, except perhaps Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Nowadays, life expectancy is about 70 years, for the very oldest boomers. This may come as a surprise to those boomers about to turn 70, who have just renewed their gym membership. It’s understandable that this fact should be shocking, since the world seems to be unusually crowded lately with people in their 90s and 100+.
So, what does all this mean if you are about to blow out 70 candles? The good news is that as you age, your life expectancy actually increases. Each year you live means that you have survived all sorts of potential causes of death. It means you didn’t die of infectious diseases when young, car accidents, or a broken heart in your teens. It also means that your ex-spouse didn’t actually follow through on all the threats he/she made against you. So the trick is to just stay alive.
To give you a visual aid for all this, imagine your life as a huge Olympic sport of hurdle jumping. You’ve got your sneakers on, you’ve had a hearty gluten-free breakfast, and you’ve remembered to floss. Now you can spend every single day of the rest of your life spotting and jumping the never-ending hurdles, that seem to be getting higher and higher. It’s pretty simple, unless something distracts you, like having to pee or answer your cell phone. In that case, you will run smack into a hurdle and your children and grandchildren will get to wonder why you never cleaned out your attic.
So, Happy Birthday, brand new 70-year-olds. Blow out the candles and continue to do whatever it is you have been doing. Work, play, nap, have sex, date, don’t date, read all the books you’ve never gotten around to reading, go to the gym, volunteer, binge watch Game of Thrones or House of Cards, complain that things were better 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, play with your grandchildren, be grateful you don’t have to play with your grandchildren, walk your dog or pet your cat, travel, be with your friends, run marathons, fret about your aging face and body, believe you look 10 years younger than your age. Just keep jumping those hurdles. It’s up to you to be the role model for all the rest of us boomers.