If you are a friend on Facebook, you’ve figured out that today is my birthday. While all birthdays are something of a milestone (thanks be to God I’m still breathing!) the decade birthdays always seem pretty significant.
I turned 60 today. I was sitting with my wife the other night and talking about the fact that we had moved to our present home when I was not yet 36. How did that happen? How did we go from being parents of a kindergartner to wannabe grandparents? Birthday insight one is pretty basic: time passes and seems to go ever more quickly. Yet I have to say the years have been full and rich and I really have no desire for “do overs.”
A while back I heard Dustin Hoffman interviewed about this decade thing and how when we are younger we play the mental game of doubling our age, thinking that we have at least half our life before us and how at 60 that becomes a pretty doubtful exercise. Birthday insight number two is realizing that I my days are numbered in this body and that it is crazy to live one’s life without reckoning with one’s mortality. That said, much of my response is an ever-increasing gratitude for each day, a joy in those moments of wonder, and a passion that each day would matter for time and eternity. It is interesting how the passage of years brings a focus to one’s life.
As I’ve approached this milestone, it has become increasingly clear that I’ve been given so much through all these years, including physical stuff and that a major occupation of these next years is giving it away–either that or saddling my son with that task. But it is not only physical stuff. Life at this point is not about acquiring more status or protecting whatever status I have. I’m not sure that is ever what life should be about, but at this point, it is increasingly apparent what a foolish game that is. Rather it is time, and more than time to celebrate and bless and affirm the gifts of those in the rising generation and make space for the exercise of these. So birthday insight number three is that at this age, it is time to give away your stuff!
There are a number of ways that we can say life is hard, and the truth is, getting older isn’t for the faint of heart. You see more heart-breaking things, from the death of close friends to the troubles of the world. You become aware of joints you never knew you had. Things just don’t heal as quickly. Yet we celebrate birthdays, and I don’t think this is simply that we survived another year but that underneath and deeper than the hard stuff is a consciousness of a goodness to life.To be alive, to behold the world’s beauty, to grow older with the love of one’s youth, to continue to tend our gardens, to sing great music, and to enjoy a good party–all these things reflect a deeper reality. I don’t think these things have to be a denial of hard realities but rather a statement of faith that there is a deeper goodness, a deeper truth, and a deeper beauty. So my last birthday insight is simply that it is good to celebrate these days and even these decade birthdays, not simply for the joys of the past but the hopes of yet more wonderful things to come, come what may.
And so I will enjoy this birthday–family celebrations, the wishes of friends, the perks of becoming a “Golden Buckeye”, and most of all, the quiet shared moments with my wife. So glad to be on this journey with all of you!