October 12, 2015

I guess when it comes to age-y kinds of milestones, I’ll admit this is a big one. Never mind the fact that turning sixty today is considered what turning fifty used to be; when I was growing up folks that were in their fifties were adults but sixty was elderly, an age where if you worked you were thinking retirement, an age reserved for grandparents doting on their grandchildren. But here I am at sixty, and I guess there is not much to say except it is what it is and that I have been, in the words of John Fogerty, quite the “fortunate son”. I think of a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”:

…“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Of course that rule doesn’t count when it comes to liberals and liberalism in general. 🙂 But the fact is I’ve had a lot of advantages. Growing up in the kind of small town that rarely exists anymore. Wonderful parents. A close extended family. Good genes. Wonderful and loyal friendships that have lasted decades. From my parents and aunt and uncle, a sense of what taste, class, and appreciation are. The ability to travel: seeing the Caribbean, and Mexico, and Las Vegas, and Bermuda, and New Orleans, and experiencing what it’s like to wear a tuxedo on a cruise ship during formal nights and not even asking why. Possessing an appreciation and an ear for music. And the same for God’s creation, a sense of right vs. wrong, and doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you. These are all things that are hard to teach in and of themselves; some people are simply born without them, for whatever reason. I’ve also been blessed with a life of good health: sure, I had my prostate removed (five years ago, no reoccurrence of cancer!), but other than that I’ve never broken a bone, nor spent more than a night in the hospital. Knock on wood.

Sure, along the way, I’ve made my share of mistakes, caused my share of hurts and disappointments, and created more than my share of gray hairs on my parents’ heads, but I’ve never claimed to be perfect. I have my faults just like anyone else, and am oftentimes too quick to speak and act without thinking things through, but better in my view to be impulsive and passionate about things then letting the world run you over and leave you full of regrets of things never done and never said out of hesitation and reticence.

As I was saying to Tracey over cocktails as we celebrated our 29th anniversary a couple of weeks ago, when you’re turning sixty you start seeing your world a whole lot differently. I don’t feel as if I’m slowing down any (although following a workday featuring 7 AM calls with India I do look forward to my afternoon nap!), but I’m coming to see my own life voyage in a different way. The things that at one time seemed to drive me in an active way I now accept and embrace more passively. I enjoy the challenge of the wee bit of gardening and landscape design I do (there’s a little Eden inside this little postage stamp we call the Richard hacienda), and I hope it is pleasing to the Creator from Whom all comes. Family and friends are more important than ever, as is working out at the gym and hitting golf balls. My religion, while still there, less so. I know I’m imperfect. I know I’m a sinner. And I know I’ve made huge mistakes in my life, but I’m not making any apologies – my life lived is what it is, for better or for worse.

I feel fortunate that I grew up in a time that, whether it was or not, life seemed simpler. People were more engaged with each other, knew manners, and had consideration for others – you had to if you wanted to get by in that world. A time when one’s word was your word. Unlike for the couple I saw having dinner the other night who ate their entire meal with their noses down at their iPads, speaking nary a few words to each other the whole time, I grew up in an age where you had to interact and engage with people, to share stories, to learn from each other. And if somewhere along the way you got beat up or you beat someone else up, well, that was just the experience of growing up.

I’ll admit to having become somewhat of a curmudgeon. I don’t like what my generation (the so-called “baby boomers”) have done to this world via the whiny, lazy, mushy, overly-sensitive, and self-absorbed generation they have foisted on this country and the world. I’m sure there are exceptions, but not many. And it chills me to think that the morons spit out by my generation and our country’s public school and university systems are the same ones I’ll be pleading with repeatedly to replace my bedpan in another twenty years or so while they sit there doing what goes for tweeting or taking selfies at that time. (Hopefully by that time they’ll have all been replaced by robots programmed to know what doing a good job and having responsibility means!)

But I digress.

I have no clue as to where the road will lead from here, and that’s OK with me. By the time you’re reading this I’ll have turned sixty – the first member of Goodboys Nation to have ever made it to that age. I don’t really have any goals that I’d consider long-term. If possible I’d like to work full-time until I’m 67 or so. I’d like to achieve bogey-and-a-half golf consistently. I’d like my dichondra (south lawn) and sun-and-shade grass (east lawn) to come up and stay green all the time. I’d like to take another cruise, if only to be reminded once more just how truly unique and otherworldly the experience was in that golden age when Auntie Marge first talked Tracey and I into taking our first cruise. Another trip to Vegas is a must. Most of all, I just want to spend as much time with my family and my friends while we’re all still around: I cherish the simple pleasures of a game of cribbage with my parents and a round of golf or dinner with my friends. And if that’s not possible, there’s always the Pinot Grigio sipped amidst the quiet and peace of of the back patio looking at the palm trees and the stars.

I always thought that turning sixty meant that life would begin to slow down, but I’ve found (as I’m sure y’all have) that it’s doing nothing but accelerating. I’m guessing it’s times we live in and the technology surrounding us that creates the sense of everything speeding to whatever end awaits each of us. Hence the importance of forcing one’s self to slow down in order to appreciate the smaller, important things and worry about how you’ll deal with the bigger stuff whenever it inevitably comes.

OK, enough philosophizing; it’s time to start another day of work. India awaits.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:00 | Comments (5)
  1. “I’ll have turned sixty – the first member of Goodboys Nation to have ever made it to that age.” Really? You’re still just a kid to me. Have a little respect for your elders.

    Happy 60th!! It’s just another year as long as you are feeling good. Health & Happiness … Enjoy! … Goose

    Comment by Goose — October 12, 2015 @ 9:14 am

  2. Happy Birthday to one of my most awesome friends in the world…I love and miss you and Tracey so much. Hope you have a Hemingway Daquiri kind of celebration. Sixty is only the beginning.
    My surgery is this Thurs..so I should be good to go and come visit this spring. Plan to be in New Mexico in April and then head your way.

    Comment by Jana — October 12, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

  3. Happy 60th to “The Great White Shank” !

    Comment by Ron Myerow — October 12, 2015 @ 2:50 pm

  4. Goose, you are older than me? Heck, you don’t look a day over seventy! But I kid. Well thanks for paving the way for me, I feel a whole lot better now.

    Good luck with your surgery, Jana. Yes, I will have a Hemingway to celebrate – that’s a great idea. Keep us posted on your progress!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — October 12, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

  5. Thanks Cubby!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — October 13, 2015 @ 9:35 pm

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