I’ve been working on that anger thing for a long time and for the most part it seems under control. Israel is located in a tense global neighborhood and my part of Jerusalem lies between two infamous Arab villages, best known for perpetrating some of the more heinous attacks in recent years: bulldozers and rogue sedans being the preferred weapons of choice. Still, we shop together, sit in the same medical clinics, pick up packages at the same local post office and drink coffee side-by-side in the corner cafes. Lugging about all of that fear, anger and suspicion is too tiring, and it weighs a lot. Standing at the cusp of my 60th birthday it occurs to me that I’d better conserve some energy as it will probably be needed for the next regional conflict.
Which is why I surprised myself with two recent, unbridled outbursts, very much NOT keeping with my new keep-it-cool persona.
Episode number one involved someone sending me a short video-clip of a 60-year-old woman ‘killing it’ to the hip hop song “Uptown Funk.” Silver haired, squat and thick in the middle as many younger seniors tend to be, she tore-up the dance floor with a group of her students. Yeah, she was good. But I know a lot of people my age—men and women—who are great dancers and/or athletes. Nevertheless, the posted comments were so blatantly patronizing, congratulating another long-toothed geezer for doing the impossible. Which is what really got my blood boiling; It wasn’t impossible. It was dancing. I felt offended.
The next day I sat in a programming meeting to discuss the creation of a Young Professionals division of my organization. Most of the administrative staff are over 50 years old and the actual membership is comprised of senior citizens. Thus, there is an interest in bringing in “young blood.”
The newly appointed head of the Young Division used phrases like, “Young people prefer . . . . . “ and “Our crowd would/wouldn’t/doesn’t/always . . . . “, etc. Speaking very slowly and loud, she carefully enunciated her words lest our ear-horns miss the gist of her condescending presentation. My co-workers are fun, proactive and passionate and through the corner of my eye I watched these successful marketers and programming specialists control their tempers while a 30-year-old neophyte patiently explained the steps needed to ensure a successful beer and pretzel pub night.
With apologies to the novelist John Irving as I steal the best line from one of his more uncomfortable novels, “My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me—don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”
Getting older does not make one a clown or obsolete. Age offers blessed opportunity-after-opportunity to soar in whatever manner one’s health and attitude permits.
New York-born Andrea Simantov is a mother of six who moved to Jerusalem in 1995. She frequently lectures on the complexity and magic of life in Jerusalem and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.