Back in the nineteen sixties when the rock and roll was just getting started, there was this little old rock and roll band out of England that got some attention. You may have heard of them. They were called the Rolling Stones. And this little old band had a pretty good hit with the kids called Jumping Jack Flash.
It was a jumping little tune that was probably more popular because it was such good rock and roll than for its message. But if you listen to the words, the singer sings about bad things that happened to him as a child and a youth. The description of the difficulties this youngster went through are pretty graphic. But at the end of each lyric he declares that it’s all right and that its fine and using the hipster language of the day, it’s a gas.
In a way, that song title became a call to arms to the youth that are now moving into their senior citizen years to embrace life, see difficulty as opportunity and not let hard times get you down. This mantra can be a wonderful outlook on life for us as we sort out what it means to be a senior citizen.
To be sure, looking ahead to your senior years has some real issues that you will have to face. For many it will be the loss of a spouse. There is retirement which is hard if you love to work. There may come a time when you have to move from the home you raised your kids in and there almost certainly be physical decline and eventually the outcome of this part of our lives is our eternal reward.
Many senior citizens face these daunting challenges and despair. They see that the resources to overcome some of these problems are simply not there. There are dire diseases that can put real dread into your heart. If you give into that despair, your senior years will be bleak to say the least. It’s a strange formula but despite the situation ahead, if we can learn to not be intimidated by old age, the chances we will cope with it and live a happier senior life are much better than if we let depression and despair begin to take over.
But we don’t want to just cope with life do we? This generation that is taking up residence in the senior citizen ranks have never been ones to just cope. We are a generation of winners. We refuse to just cope! We insist that we can WIN. But how do you win against the onset of old age that is unforgiving and unrelenting as well?
You win by not letting it steal your spirit. There is another option besides giving in to desire, losing hope and eventually letting that dark angel come along too soon. Instead, you can tell that dark angel to kiss your big toe (or something else). You are not going to go out gracefully, and you are going to live life to hilt to the very end!
There is another option than denying that you are a senior citizen and trying to live like a man or woman 30 years your senior. That is nothing more than a midlife crisis except it is happening in old age. Its self-denial and, as your grandkids might say, “It’s just creepy.”
The alternative is you are going to embrace life and embrace the stage of life you are in. Yes, you are going to celebrate old age, look it in the eye with an impish grin and not let it take away a bit of the spirit and the gusto that you have lived your life from childhood until now.
That is the spirit of Jumping Jack Flash and that isn’t just a song, it’s a description of this generation of senior citizens. You will be the ones who jump all over old age and make it a party. And despite the other problems, it’s not going to be “just ok” to grow old. It’s all right. You might even say its fine. And we don’t mind borrowing a phrase from ourselves 40 years ago to say - It’s a gas.
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