On turning 80 and considering the potential that lies ahead

Suzy Farbman with her family at Timber Ridge farm.

We post war folks who’ve made it to our 80s have been through astounding changes.

We’ve lived through two different centuries and breathtaking shifts. Party lines to cell phones. Typewriters to iPads. Tricycles to Teslas. Life-changing Polio to life-changing gene therapy.

It’s been quite a ride.

Launching a new decade, as I did on May 6th, gets your attention. Especially when your new decade starts with an 8. Having been married on April 8 and borne a fabulous son on October 8, I’ve considered 8 my lucky number. I hope to thrive the next ten years in my 80s.

Meanwhile, this July marks my 20 year cancerversary. At 60, I feared I wouldn’t make 61. You bet I’m grateful.

Though my eyes, bladder and other organs aren’t fooled, my spirit still feels young. And so, I carry on with optimism. I take the eyedrops and blood pressure meds, relish friends, revel in family, travel when able and continue struggling with my golf game.

Jane Fonda, who’s reached the august age of 83, speaks of a new paradigm. “Philosophers, artists, doctors, scientists are taking a new look at ‘the third act,’ and asking: How do we use this time?” The new concept around aging, Fonda says, is seeing it as a period of “wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. Age as potential.”

According to studies, Fonda says, most people over 50 report being “less stressed and happier.” This change in attitude, she says, is deemed “the Longevity Revolution.”

In Nirvana in a Nutshell, author Scott Shaw, a practicing Buddhist, offers 157 Zen reflections. Number 85 is wise and succinct:

“You can be dominated by external circumstances, or you can BE.

“If you allow yourself to be dominated by things outside of your control, you will forever be locked into desiring that things were different.

“What is outside your control? Life.

“What is under your control? How you experience your life.

“Choose.”

Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and other nonfiction best sellers, recently escaped dying from a burst aneurysm. The experience impacted him. A “lifelong atheist,” Junger, unconscious in the trauma ward, was visited by his dead father. And by an ICU nurse who visited him in the trauma ward. She’d suggested he view his situation as “sacred rather than scary.” Once recovered, Junger sought her out.

No one in the hospital reported knowing her.

The experience changed Junger’s attitude toward death. In a recent WSJ feature, he concludes, “Without death, life does not require focus or courage or choice.” Whether the experience affected his atheism, he doesn’t say.

As a newly minted octogenarian, I know death looms ever closer. Meanwhile, I choose to focus on life. To enjoy what I can and spread joy where I may in whatever time I have left. And to give thanks to a force I count on in good times and bad—a sacred force I call God.

Burton and Suzy at their anniversary dinner in 2023.

 

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4 thoughts on “On turning 80 and considering the potential that lies ahead

  1. Carol Roberts

    Suzy,
    Your words continue to resonate with me, especially your view of turning 80. As I just sailed into 86 after a scary time with Covid a year ago, I agree with the Buddhist ideas. They create a serenity I am enjoying so much. Glad to be here to enjoy my friends and family!

    Reply
    1. Judy Komer

      As I said, welcome to the 80’s club where you now can do whatever you want, say whatever you want, eat whatever you want, buy whatever you want and sleep with whoever you want! Enjoy every minute of everyday and stay just the way you are, you are loved. 🥰

      Reply

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