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Turning Back the Clock and Living a Life of Relevance

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How do you stay feeling young and looking good when you’re getting old and looks start fading? I celebrated my fifty-fourth birthday this year and I finally caught up. My girlfriend Randi always told me I had an “old soul.” Randi has been my friend me since third grade, so she should know. When I was nine, and I would play at Randi’s house, her mother would shake her head while looking at me; tsk, tsk, and call me precocious. That’s true. I was always one life stage ahead of my peers. I was babysitting for littler kids when my friends still had babysitters themselves. I lied about my age and worked retail as a manager at Marshall Fields at fourteen, while my friends were playing intramurals. And, I was engaged at twenty, married at twenty-one and a mom by twenty-two, when my friends were still in college.

Like Benjamin Button, the clock starting going backward yesterday. Here’s what happened. I attended a business networking event; Elements of Growth. Business owners were invited to listen and discuss best practices for growing their companies with whiz kid Andrew Mason, the CEO of Groupon, the fastest growing Internet company in history. It was a great program, an outstanding lunch and a very interesting group of participants. When I got there I chatted with two young business owners; one owns a public relations firm and the other is CEO of a high-tech Web design firm. Crazy-smart guys who are passionate about their work. Their energy was fuel to my fire. I sat next to a thirtysomething director of research from a hedge fund. On my right, was my daughter Rachel, she’s a recruiter for an interactive advertising agency. The conversation at our table was stimulating and I fully appreciated, while it was happening, that I was sharing the experience with my grown-up baby girl.

Pumped-up from a productive day, I took the train to the suburbs to meet my husband and his friend. New Colony Six was playing an outdoor concert and the plan was meet up enjoy the ’60s music and go out for dinner. I got there early and I began to deflate. Little groups of people started to gather, grabbing the best seats and setting up folding chairs. For the first time in my life, I felt younger than my peers. The gray hair, veiny calves bulging out of capris, and strains of depressing conversations; retirement, boomerang kids, aging and dead parents. Don’t get me wrong, I own up to most of the observations I’m dissing right now. And yet, I was worlds apart last night. I was still basking in the afterglow of living a life that’s relevant in changing times.

How does one turn the clock back when it’s getting late? It’s not by dressing like you’re twenty years younger. I’ve seen too many sixty-year-olds in leggings to know that doesn’t work. It’s not by acting like the next gen or clinging to your own youthful activities. Ever seen a white-haired grandpa toking on a joint at a rock concert? I have and it’s not pretty. Turn back the clock—take interest in new trends, new music, and the next best thing. Turn back the clock—seek to understand what younger people are doing, thinking and how they feel. Turn back the clock—find something with a purpose that you’re passionate about, you’re good at, and you enjoy. Pray for the ability to find that special something. Pray for the courage to pursue that special something. Pray for the contentment that doing something special brings.

Here’s a prayer to get you started from

“Portable Peace”

I praise You for:
My purpose,
My passion,
My partner,
My people,
My portable peace,

Your perfection experienced.

For purpose gives direction.
Passion unleashes my gifts.
My partner, life meaning
My people, a heritage
My portable peace is
Your grace unequaled.

—Ruth Williams


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