Monday will mark one more trip around the sun for me and, this year, I’m beginning to look at myself a little differently. Writing about being middle aged can cause you to reflect on your own time on earth, or rather, the time you have left on earth. I’ve managed to hang around 54 years without being too concerned with all that, nevertheless, suddenly, a little glimpse of my reflection in a store window or spending some time with my grandchild makes me realize that I am no longer someone who can use his youth as a weapon. Nope, definitely going to have to use age and treachery to defeat youth and enthusiasm. (Wink).
I talked to a musician yesterday about this, he was worried about a friend, our age, who can’t find work because he is “too old”. I’ve been self employed for so long that this shocked me, wait a minute, we are too old? Us? The Baby Boomers? What the hell? I’m not playing this game, not getting “old”. Biologically, getting older beats the alternative; mentally: nope. Not me.
I feel good; I’m in my prime. I’ve just found my life’s calling, feel good physically, I’m more active and curious than ever. No, I’m not “old”, not even close. Nonetheless, I have spent a lot of time in this body, in this life.
Let’s do a little left brain thinking (this will make you engineers happy, thanks to Victor Wooten and his wonderful book, The Music Lesson, for this concept): If , like me, you are 54 years old, you have lived 19,710 days. If you saved a dollar for every day you’ve been alive, you still wouldn’t have enough money to buy a house. (Think we ought to value our lives as much as we do our money?) If you sleep 8 hours a day, that’s 1 day of sleep for every three days you are alive, so you are left with 13,240 days. If, like most Americans, you average 6 hours a day watching TV or playing on the internet; you are down to 9,855 days.
9,855 days to learn to talk and walk, to go to school, to fall in love, to get haircuts, to learn to dance and worry about Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. We have a lot to squeeze in.
In times gone by, few made it to this age, life expectancy was about 42, the idea of finding meaning in the second half of life was not something people dwelled on, they were more concerned about things like the plague or if their oxen was going to pull the plow. You worked until your body broke down and then you died.
Today, we have it pretty good. We live in the best time in history, with the greatest healthcare, best communications and mostly world peace. Is it perfect? Not so much; yet, I’m not on a slave ship or working in a coal mine.
I’ll play this hand; thanks. I have been given many gifts and I’ve learned to be grateful for them.
So, how do I play this hand? Let’s begin with this preposition: none of us is promised tomorrow (and that’s good to know.) I intend to live until I am 100, and I plan to do it with vigor. (There’s a word I never used until I reached this age). That leaves me 16,790 days, 11,193 with full night’s sleep. (Ahhh; bladder, did you hear that? A FULL night’s sleep.)
That leaves me plenty of time to live consciously, to live with purpose. Time to find out why my soul made this journey and what I was sent here to accomplish. It gives me time to continue to create and to help others do the same. It gives me time to continue to love the people I love, gives me time to make some more music, time to be in grace.
It gives me time to breathe. To be.
It leaves little time to worry about other’s pain bodies, no time to change people who don’t want to change, no time for anger, no time for jealousy. No time for gossip, celebrity or otherwise, no time… Wait, that’s a Guess Who song. (I know, I’m old, the Guess Who were a band… they were after the Beatles and before the Jonas Brothers)
So yes, the reflection in the store window is of an older guy, but, I can still turn on the fastball, still hit it out of the park. The secret, as far as I can tell, is to not take a seat on the bench, to keep swinging. Knowing we only have a certain number of days, no matter how few, is something to embrace. My soul has explained that he is only visiting, only using my body for a while.
The power of knowing that I have the chance to spend each day in harmony with my soul is one of the secrets of life. Knowing that I have been given the opportunity to create a life and see it through, to it’s conclusion, is a gift of the highest order. I am grateful.
Life is a gift, let’s continue to unwrap it.
We are just getting started.
Do me a favor: close your eyes and listen to the words of this song: