It’s a tale of two cruises.
The first one happened for our 10th wedding anniversary, and we took the entire family. It was March. We left Miami and stopped in Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Our kids still say it was one of the best vacations we ever took. The ship had a feel of joyful chaos because there were lots of college spring breakers on board. It was loud and crowded everywhere, including the ports of call. If you weren’t on deck early in the morning, you didn’t have a prayer of finding an open chair in which to enjoy the warm weather. Although there was a lot of energy on board, there was far too little serenity for my liking. I was 38. Cruising wasn’t something I wanted to do again anytime soon.
The second one happened for our 25th wedding anniversary. This time, it was just my husband and I who cruised. It was mid-September. We left Boston and stopped in Bar Harbor, Maine, St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Most of the ship’s passengers were our age or older. The only crowded place on board was the casino. Otherwise it was pure relaxation with lots of seating available anywhere we wanted to go, including the guided tour buses to which we happily turned over our locomotion. I was 53. Life slowed down on that cruise, and I loved it.
As I reflect on these two cruises, it’s hard for me to believe that a cruise with seniors who like to take naps feels better than a cruise with spring breakers who never sleep. A part of me can’t admit to that. Like it’s a failure to not want to keep up with the high-energy world of the younger generation.
But then honesty sets in. I like to take naps too.
Aging isn’t something I thought about or prepared for at all. Many years of living just subtly shifts you to your next stage of life, without your awareness. Aging finds you and comes for you ever so slowly, that by the time it does—you’re surprisingly ok with it.
It’s not that I’m ready for retirement. I’m a doer and take a lot of joy out of being productive. In fact, a perfect life would be to remain productive in some way until the Lord calls me home.
And I still have a “yes, I can!” attitude. Of the 2,400 passengers aboard the cruise ship, my husband and I were likely the only two who purchased our tickets two days before the ship sailed and drove 22 hours straight through to catch the boat before it left. We’re still road warriors and not fearful of being spontaneous.
But the reality is that 53 isn’t 23. I’m fully aware that the glorious speed of youth is being replaced with the reflection and contentment that comes with aging.
And the really wonderful thing is, that I’m liking it.