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It's Our Turn: A whole lot of living to do

Some days, it's easy to feel old. When you get into your 40s, 50s or beyond, there are times when sad-but-true thoughts can wreck your mood — like when you realize that you have more yesterdays behind you than days ahead.

It's depressing stuff and I try not to dwell on it. I try to focus on today, be grateful for the time I've already been given, for my good health and other good fortunes. But still, that feeling of age anxiety creeps in.

I've fought it off with a variety of Jedi mind tricks. Maybe they'll keep increasing the human lifespan. Maybe science will come up with some amazing fountain of youth. Maybe, because I sort of watch what I eat and I kind of exercise regularly, I'm actually 10 or 20 years younger than most people my age. Maybe 50 is the new 30.

But the other day, I received one of the best age-busting mind boosts I've received in a while. It came through an unusual source — my annual life insurance statement. I was glancing it over quickly — like I do every year for a few seconds before filing it away with all the other paperwork — when I stopped and stared at the maturity date: August 4, 2060. I don't remember seeing that date on the policy before, although it's probably been on there for eons.

The number struck me like a thunderbolt. 2060. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. It seemed magical, fantastical, the stuff of science fiction. Two thousand and sixty! A thought exploded in my head: This company that issued my policy decades ago actually believes I have a chance of still taking in air until 2060.

Now I realize that's not what the company is really thinking — people's ages and policy maturity dates are just numbers on a statement, but still, that year filled me with a sense of wonder about the tantalizing possibilities ahead.

Still holding the statement, I started imagining all the things I could do between now and 2060 — all the date nights with my wife, the vacations and trips we could take, the races we could run, the anniversaries we could celebrate, so many wonderful summers ahead, all the laughs and special times with family and friends, the books I could read, the blues I could listen to, the food I could cook, the movies I could see, the stories I could write. Maybe I could even write a book. I thought of how my two nieces would maybe be married and maybe I'd be a great uncle. I thought of the times ahead with my stepson — maybe he'll be a husband and parent by then or happily single; just finding out how that all turns out would be exciting.

Heck, maybe I'd even have the chance to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl.

I know. A date in a life insurance policy in no way guarantees I'll still be here when I'm nearly 100, or the kind of shape I'll be in. But the possibilities are exhilarating.

Imagining that kind of boundless future, I'm coming to believe, is a lot better than fretting over how "old" you are, the time you have left, or getting hung up on "expiration" dates like 40, 50, 60, 70 or beyond.

So if age anxiety is getting you down, pick a date of your own — a fantastical date decades from now and start envisioning all the things you can look forward to and accomplish by then.

Seeing that date on my insurance policy made me feel young. It made me realize the opportunities and good times that are still out there. So bring it on, calendar! There's a whole lot of living to do between now and 2060.

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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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