“We used to be cool.” That was the bumper sticker I saw on a new Toyota Sienna van while I was walking in the neighborhood last week. It made me chuckle. Someone has a sense of humor, and it must be someone with kids, I thought.
As I walked, I kept thinking about that bumper sticker and I realized that I really didn’t like the message it delivered, that we become “uncool” when we grow up and have children and other responsibilities. Somehow, “cool” means being young, being a risk taker with a dose of resistance to authority. Also, it means wearing the right clothes and understanding how to use a cell phone.
In our society, where calling someone “old” is an insult, it can be hard to find your inner cool after 50. But if you’re a boomer like me, you have a chance to create your own kind of cool, a kind of cool with responsibilities. We aren’t bound by what other people think so much now. Role models from our parents’ day on how to age don’t apply. Opportunities to live creatively abound. We just have to figure out what we want.
We can be cool our way and at the same time be responsible and leave our mark on the world we will leave behind. So, in keeping with the spirit of healthy aging and healthy living, here are a few suggestions:
- If you were a leather jacket motorcycle mama who loved the fast lane, you know that you don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding. Keep riding but do it with a helmet, and go slow around children and dogs.
- If you were a peace-loving flower child, you can still be groovy and give peace a chance. Keep your heart and mind open, even to younger people who do things so differently now.
- If you were a jock and you were jacked, for god’s sake keep going to the gym. Go to your grandkids’ sports events, and model good sportsmanship.
- If you were a hippy, you can still cultivate your inner hippie, and you can keep the ponytail. But for the sake of the kids, if you have a drug problem, try sobriety and recovery. (I hear it’s the bomb.)
A key hallmark of American culture is that we can live creatively at all phases of life and reinvent ourselves as many times as we want over the course of our lives. Let’s ring in the new year with our own kind of cool!