George Burns, who lived to 100, willed a nice slogan to hold on to: "You have to get older, but you don't have to get old."
50 seems to be when one begins to think about aging (and when AARP gladly accepts your membership); 60 is when it moves into full gear. I have learned life is more like the changing seasons - Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. I think of 60 as being in the Fall category. There is a lot of time left, if things go good. And it is a good place to be. The green of spring is beautiful, but so are the turning leaves of Fall. Interestingly Fall has long been my favorite season, with cooler weather, football and the excitement surrounding upcoming holidays. And I am looking forward to “life” in the Fall season.
I look forward to making new friends, younger friends, and I will get to watch the younger generation tackle life’s hard questions. And there can be a degree of enjoyment in offering words of wisdom to those who want to listen. I will have a chance to break some bad habits, slow down, and try to do things right and not have to beat myself up for not being more disciplined.
And then there are grandkids. These grandkids fill you up with love and joy.
The real joy of this Fall season... learning to be an optimist. I can look for solutions to challenges, push forward even when things don’t go well, even more so try to understand the power of gratitude. I feel the pathway to having the best life possible is to embrace where you are at, own the moment, embrace it with gratitude, and look forward to the next step of the journey.
So here I am at 60? What have I learned so far?
1. People who "hate getting old" are idiots. Every year is a privilege. Let me tell you- getting to 60 feels like a triumph. I have no idea how I made it this far, but I am very grateful.
2. Toxic relationships are not worth it. Period.
3. Friends are good. I suddenly delight in connecting with pals from my past, more so than ever before. Sure, I have wonderful friends, but there’s something uplifting, energizing, and meaningful about finding an old friend on Facebook, a friend who knew me when I was in my formative years. If you're not on Facebook, you're missing something.
4. Romance and teamwork are still alive and well at 60. Michelle and I can split a whole pie when we want to. We can sleep late when we have no good reason to get up, or we can be up together before the crack of dawn when we have places to go and people to see. We have learned we are best as a team and we make a very good team.
5. Control isn’t so important. Yes, there have been many times I believed I knew the answer to almost everything. I didn’t just suggest solutions; I inserted myself into the solution. Many times I was exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed that no one seemed to appreciate my “help.” But now, it is like a light bulb went on and I saw the light. Control does not equal happiness. The world operates just fine without my interference. The kids can actually problem solve without me. Teammates can shoot their own game, they don’t have to do it the way I would. I now say, ”Thank you,” rather than, “Thank you, but….
6. Just say it. Take every opportunity to express love and gratitude. Tell em how you feel. I’ve reached this milestone, so why wait to tell others how I feel? My favorite words: "I love you". And "Thank you".
7. God is real, God loves us all, and God is faithful to keep every promise to us. Take it to the bank and draw close to God. Forgive people, it is God’s way. God’s way is the way of love.
I've enjoyed every age I've been, and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present. I look ahead with great enthusiasm if for no other reason than it is true, “I get better looking each day.” I really do feel good, strong and healthy (except for the times I stand up from a chair and hear my knees crack.) Maybe the truth is this is just a rah-rah speech to disguise the real truth that I am really standing of the precipice of decrepitude. It’s easy to forget, amid the pleasures and terrors of everyday life, how it all goes by much too fast, even if you pay attention all the time, and who, really, manages to do that? Hardly anyone.
I awoke to a throng of Facebook birthday greetings, from people who know me well and other friendly acquaintances. That is nice. Thank you all. Thank you each and every one. Thank you for your friendship and for your love. And most of all Thank You to my beautiful wife. I am certainly the luckiest man alive to have you by my side every day. I feel good today.