Today is my sixtieth birthday, the big six-oh—oh as in Oh, my God, how did this happen? It seems I barely hit forty and here I am, sixty. All shock aside, I've been looking forward to turning sixty. I think of sixty as the age of permission, when it's okay to finally let myself be who I am.
When I look at my face in the mirror and notice a wrinkle or two (or three), now I can say, "Hey, I'm sixty, of course I have a few wrinkles," and when I feel like watching "American Idol," I can just go ahead and do it, to hell with my formerly high-brow tastes. If I go out to lunch or dinner with a friend, it will be because I really want to, not out of some sense of obligation or politeness. And when politics comes up, I won't feel I must go along to get along. I can say what I really think. Because, after all, I'm sixty. I may have to suffer the indignities of older age, but I'm determined to enjoy its privileges. A friend of mine once described the occasional outbursts of elderly people as "geriatric disinhibition." I may not be geriatric quite yet, but I'm ready for a little disinhibition.
Still, old habits die hard and I'm worried that even turning sixty won't free me from the bonds of over-cautiousness. On second thought, maybe I shouldn't abandon all my careful ways. After all, they've gotten me to where I am today—great friends, wonderful family, alive and kicking and psyched for my seventh decade.