My boot camp for the bonus years — a poem

Pink felt slippers like jester's boots

Boots for the elderly boot camp

I gave myself one task per month
to prepare for the terrifying role
of being old.
I was confused but I was committed.
Month by month I tackled
my housing and hobbies
friendships and finance
diet and exercise
learning and voice.
Then meditation and happiness
late stage identity
and lastly, reluctantly, carefully
attempting to face my mortality.

That was the plan, you can call it obsessive
call it silly or selfish, neurotic, excessive
but hey, it was at least systematic
and a plan gives you power, a sense of control.
You can’t control death and it’s coming regardless
but you can get to grips in advance
with small things
so you know
you can still be yourself and the boss of yourself
you’re getting the gist, keeping up with the play
making decisions and having a go—
those precious and familiar gifts
that can slither away as you grow old.

Poem and photo Rachel McAlpine, CC BY 2.0

22 thoughts on “My boot camp for the bonus years — a poem

  1. Love it, always good to have a plan.

  2. mistermuse says:

    Good tasks all. Some of them are best addressed long before approaching old age, such as eating habits, hobbies, and even cultivating meditation. Healthy eating habits, for example, could literally add years to one’s life if one doesn’t wait until old age to start. The problem is that many young people think they’re invincible and can’t even imagine themselves ever growing old. I know, because that was me when I was young.

    1. You are so right. Those were the days, huh? On the other hand, it’s never too late to start.

  3. The last thing I want to be as I age is OLD! I love your plan. Since I am looking at retirement in the near future, your list gives me some things to think about.

    1. Great: please keep me posted.

  4. Dan Antion says:

    It’s good to have a plan, but “Audit my eating habits?” Really? I don’t want to.

    1. Hahaha. I am not telling you to do anything! This was my list for me. And about the eating… I was a bit casual there.

      1. Dan Antion says:

        It is good advice.

  5. srbottch says:

    A great list. Ahhh, the ‘oldie voice’. I just may print this list and post it over my workbench. I also may add one to the list, ‘get rid of tall ladders’…and hire someone to do the high climbing!😉

    1. Your list will be unique of course. Even short ladders bother me.

  6. Beautiful post and spot on. I admire your courage, on some level it must have been hard to write.

    1. It was at the time: I did the boot camp three years ago.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Get out of debt is my advice to people getting on in years. Quit buying bigger houses, new boats, second homes on the shore, pay off the mortgage. A huge problem in the U.S. at the moment is bankruptcy among the elderly. People are working fast food places in their 80’s to stay afloat.

    1. What a worry! I’m a Mister Mickawber type.

  8. hilarymb says:

    Hi Rachel – loved hearing your voice speak your words … that was lovely. But can agree with you on the other points … get on with having a sorted life – so when one goes, life is easy for others to sort out … cheers Hilary

    1. Hilary, great to hear from you. As you can guess from my list, a compliment to my old voice is a special treat! That’s such a good reason for sorting ourselves out, too.

  9. hilarymb says:

    Yes .. the voice was lovely … and don’t we need to sort our lives out – cheers Hilary

  10. Rachel: I need to add visiting your Blog to my daily flossing/exercise routine. You are a gem. Though I have a friend who calls “Plan” a four-letter word and I sometimes feel that way too, it is important to have goals/keep learning in the Bonus Years. Your above list is an inspiration as are your poems. Rock On, Sista!

    1. Wow, thanks Susan! I am being unusually prolific while I report on the older bloggers survey, but you will find something useful here I hope… Or at least compatible with your perfectly reasonable point of view.

      1. I will be visiting many of your listed items. BTW: I am presently re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project.” Highly recommend. I need to follow her too.

  11. Utr nakliyat says:

    I like your post. Thank you

  12. Thank you. Great blog great post

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