Before I moved to Terwilliger Plaza, my life was mostly filled with people younger than I am. To them, my life was ipso facto uninteresting. I was old, fat, with grown children, clearly past doing anything worthwhile except listening to tales of the lives of my younger friends. (I must confess that I tend to Listen -- I swear there are people I've known for decades who could not tell you how many children I have, and it's not entirely their fault.)
But here, all of us are exploring old age in various ways together.
For instance: last Friday, I had some minor surgery to correct a heart arrhythmia. I went in in the morning and came home mid-afternoon, stuck full of more holes than I would have chosen, but with the problem fixed. In any other context, I could see people's eyes glaze over when I started to talk about my surgery. But here, people are actually interested. They have had similar operations themselves and want to compare experiences. They have not had similar operations and are curious because they might. And there is a strong undercurrent of comradeship -- we're all on this aging journey, moving, each of us, into unknown territory where the mountains only get steeper and the swamps deeper and the jungles more impenetrable. There are things we can do individually -- a friend of mine says, "I'm going to do what I can to keep what I have" -- but knowing we're not alone and making sure the folks next door or at the next table or riding with you in the elevator aren't alone either is really what will make the journey bearable.