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By July 28, 20153 Comments

“All the windows of my heart I open to this day.”   John Greenleaf Whittier (American writer, 1807-1892)

Whose idea was it to call our late years, the Golden Years?  Is it meant to suggest that older adults are basking in the golden light of the setting sun?  Or is it a riff on the clichéd retirement gift of the golden watch?  A little research on my part suggests that it is a marketing term from the 1950’s designed to encourage retirees to move out of their homes and into retirement villages to enjoy their golden years!

When you think about it, until quite recently very few people had the luxury of leisure time after retirement. Old age, as we know it, is a relatively recent phenomena, as our life spans have dramatically increased.

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Very few people take the Golden Years sell seriously anymore. I’ve come to think we have a window in time (maybe that’s what’s golden?) that appears to the lucky ones if their physical and mental health holds up and their kids are self-sufficient and they have enough money and energy to do things they’ve always thought they’d like to do in life.


The brutal part of the window concept of course, is that it can slam shut at any time.  Bam. There will be a sound of finality when that window closes, as it ultimately must. Perhaps then a new set of opportunities will be created or will arise to keep life interesting and inspiring, but they’re most likely not going to be the ones you thought about when most options remained open.  So, I tell myself, Pay Attention!  Don’t piddle this precious time away.  It is a remarkable time of life, made more special by the fact that it is a Limited Edition with an unknown expiration date.

Windows can close slowly too.  So slowly, as to go unnoticed. One day you notice that you can’t or don’t do all you used to do.  Is it real or imagined?

I recently learned that staring at your “window” can be a dangerous preoccupation. Just like staring at your navel. Acknowledging that the “window ” exists seems healthy and can provide momentum to live life as fully as you can, but being preoccupied with it is probably not a good idea.  As usual, it’s about striking some kind of balance in life.

I recently learned that I might be getting too preoccupied with the “window.”

When I returned from Japan, the jet lag was tough.  I expected to feel like myself after a week.  When Day 8 arrived and I still wanted to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon, I immediately decided that this might be the sign of something more threatening than jet lag.  By Day 9, a miracle occurred and I felt alive again. I was over my jet lag.  Duh.  Awareness vs. hyper-vigilance.  There’s a big difference there.

When I was a sweet young thing  flying home from Florida to Massachusetts my freshman year in college, I sat next to the then “hot” movie star Tab Hunter. We chatted a bit, but I was far too overwhelmed to carry on any serious conversation with hunter

However, as we came in to land, he turned to me and said, matter-of-factly, “Cheated death again.”  It was probably from a script in a Grade C movie he’d made, however,  I’ve never forgotten that remark.  I’ve thought about in lots of different circumstances, over the years.

On Day 9 of my return from Japan,when I suddenly felt myself springing back to life,  I said to myself, “cheated death again.”

Looks like the “window” is staying open.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Nova says:

    Diane, Loved reading this after our sweet talk about aging, the process, the joy, the loss and learning to love it all because it is a gift….this having the opportunity to get old. I so enjoy your friendship. lovingly, nova

  • Judith says:

    So happy it is still open. Thanks for the reminder

  • Doug Varone says:

    Sitting outside on my porch, the night sky waning and loving reading this. And, doesn’t Tan Hunter live in Santa Barbara? Perhaps it is time for a reunion. dv xo