The blog today is a many-layered deconstruction of the metaphor “rounding the final turn”. At its outermost, it is reflective of my recent “Aha!” that I am rounding my final turn as an aging adult. Next in this nested image, I am eagerly anticipating the cessation of political ads as November 8th approaches and the election is held. Next is the wonderfully dependable changing of the seasons, and finally a small homily on endings and abiding that comes from current attendance in a workshop with Pema Chödrön.
The Final Turn Part I: Aging Adults as Entrepreneurs
I have recently joined a small group of folks who are participating in a course offered through my local Small Business Administration. “Funding Crash Course”, as it is called, requires participants to drill down in excruciating detail into the financials of owning and operating a small business.
The facilitators are well-versed in what it takes to obtain funding and turn a business into a growing venture. The participants are, for the most part, middle-aged, at least based on my very unscientific observation of faces, hair color, and presence/absence of wrinkles. This is not the first time I have noticed this in other business-venture type offerings.
According to SCORE, over half of all small businesses in the U.S. are owned/operated by folks 55 and older. Like myself, the majority fund their endeavors themselves. I am wanting to break out of that mold and secure funding from outside sources.
Apparently, in order to achieve this goal, I need to do more than just share my brilliant idea and be gifted money; I need to prove my business case. One of the key elements in doing this is providing a profit/loss statement. This requires financial projections of 5-10 years.
And that is where I had my “Aha!”. Financial projections for me, given my current age, will take me into uncharted territory in terms of having evidence to support an 80-year-old is a worthy lending risk.
Each of the facilitators in this course is in his/her 50s or older. I am waiting to ask them what criteria they will use when faced with a great business plan being offered by an aging adult. I’ll let you know their answer!
The Final Turn Part II: Elections & Why Voting is So Important for Aging Adults
Perhaps many of you were like me and honed your political chops back in the days of Civil Rights marches, protests against the war in Vietnam. That’s where I learned the power that citizens have to influence policy, change government, and help others. I have frequently written about how my mother’s involvement with the League of Women Voters provided me with a firm grounding in what is expected as a citizen and how the right to vote for women should never be taken for granted.
Whatever Karmic hand has been at my back dropped me into Seneca Falls, NY, where I attended Eisenhower College, and proudly walked in the footsteps of both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The legacy of these amazing suffragettes continues to inspire me today, particularly given how the tide appears to be turning backward! It pains me to recognize just how vigilant we must be to insure our rights are not taken from us.
With all the talk this year about “stolen elections”, it is helpful to drill down and look at some numbers. According to Fair Vote, mid-term elections frequently draw less than 50% of eligible voters. That means that out of 9 of your neighbors, 4 of them are deciding who is going to be elected and 5 are sitting at home complaining about how unfair things are. (BTW: You are the tenth voter.)
I am sick and tired of those crazy TV ads and I just toss the glossy, full-color post cards that stuff my mail box. What influences me are people I talk with.
As a group, aging adults vote more consistently than other age cohorts, so it really isn’t about getting us up and out. It is about educating us! But what other sources of influence are there?
Text of Mouth; Not Word of Mouth
Word of mouth no longer happens in bars, churches, or other places we used to gather. Increasingly, it appears via text and on social media. More and more aging adults are getting their news online. Still, according to Pew Research, 68% of those 65 and older get their news from TV, and Fox News owns that market.
The larger implication of this, however, is that we are becoming siloed amongst those who think like us, agree with us, and don’t challenge our beliefs. We stay within our comfortable, reassuring homogeneity, instead of seeking to experience “other”. In order for us to thrive, however, we need to experience life outside our neighborhoods not just online, but also in our communities. COVID put a damper on that. But, we are emerging!
The Final Turn Part III: Autumn is Here!
Autumn in Wine Country is all about the harvest. Unlike the eruption of color back East, changes in colors are more muted here, with grape leaves turning yellow and gold or burgundy and red depending on the grape.
We experience warm days and cool nights, which brings each varietal into its fullness. With patience and the skilled hand of the winemaker, the fruit turns into a lovely glass of wine several years down the road.
It was five years ago this month that my part of the country experienced devastating wildfires. I frequently drive past empty lots where buildings I once worked and shared good times in were reduced to ashes. Evidence of their ever having been there is gone. Still, I know what was once there. I fill those empty spaces with memories, even as I see how Mother Nature has reclaimed much of the land and human tenacity has resulted in rebuilding.
This gives me hope. It suggests that even as one part of my life is ending, another is emerging. It acknowledges that there is a time for rest and renewal after loss and in those moments in between, we can connect with a past as well as imagine a future.
The Final Turn Part IV: What Does the Future Hold?
The need to know what is going to happen, I believe is universal. Perhaps because we are gifted with imaginations, conjuring a future is pretty straight forward. The challenge lies in not being seduced by these visions (good or bad), but returning to and staying the present, however uncomfortable that may feel.
Constancy, predictability, and reliability are all qualities that seem to lower stress and anxiety. They operate in virtually every area of our lives from predicting the weather nightly to scheduling Zoom calls. They are central to making my favorite recipe over and over again, and making sense of timetables for trains or airplanes so that people we love will meet us on arrival.
I have noticed that when I am feeling particularly stressed over what might happen in my immediate and long-term future, I tend to seek answers using ancient methods of prediction. I have several decks of Tarot cards, along with I Ching coins, and of course, my daily horoscope, all of which help me to interpret my thoughts and feelings and lower my distress.
These methods may not be based in science, but they do comfort me. They offer different ways of looking at and interpreting what I am experiencing and help to draw an alternate outcome. I have learned to not put too much stock in a particular prediction. Instead, I use these as I would a trusted friend who might share his or her impressions.
I will be using all of these tools to help me manage my stress as we round the final turn in the coming days as voting occurs, governments fall and rise, seasons change, and life continues to unfold.