My god I’m 70. How the hell did that happen? It wasn’t like it snuck up on me. I knew it was coming. But my god, here it is two months after the fact and it finally sunk in. I’m fringing 70. Beyond the obvious, being at the top of the immediate family’s old age food chain has its hazards. My wife and in-laws thinks it’s funny. I’m now an additional source of amusement. How many not so clever old age euphemisms are there? What do they know anyway? They’re all younger, three to ten years younger. They don’t know what its like to be 70. Hell, I don’t know what its like. I just got here. One thing is for sure. I haven’t given birthdays a whole lot of thought since turning 30. For me that was the gate, the right of passage into adulthood. Albeit infrequent, innocent transgressions would no longer be written off to immaturity. If I chronologically was an adult, then I had to make a conscience effort to be an adult. I usually did, even in spite of the urge to fall back into the old habits of simpler times. There were those occasional non-thinking, insensitive, self-indulgent, momentary slip-ups but by and large, they really were few and far between. If I learned anything in my youth, it was responsibility. My intentions were never motivated by malice or self-aggrandizement. Even with a mountain of evidence, I’m still absolutely perplexed by those that are so inclined.
This may sound like I’m obsessing. Maybe, but not for the reasons one might think. I’m neither seeking absolution nor accolades. My curricula vitae are just not that unique. I’m not searching for a blissful roadmap through the golden years, a fix all pill from big pharma or someone else’s proselytization on how to hedge my bets with God. Fortunately, I’m not obsessed with my own mortality. What I am seeking is relevance. To continue to make an effort in such a way that makes this planet just a little bit better. I would like to think that’s what I did in my past life. Leave it better than how I found it. Leave it under my own terms. Leave it with my principles intact. This was, and still is, the motto. I strove to keep my integrity in spite of my own momentary setbacks or more often, the efforts of others. Departures were not acts of self-righteous indignation. With very few exceptions, I did leave on my own terms and I’m pretty sure I made a difference in all of those stops along the way. Pluses clearly outnumbered minuses.
So what now? What’s this 70-year old to do? It is, and probably always has been, a “Question of Balance.” Not in the sense of family and work or the dictates of all of those self-help gurus. No, those are self-evident. For me it is balancing the past, the future with the present. It is about staying in the moment. True what’s done is done. But that history is also filled with learning moments that should not be forgotten and yes, planning for life while the clocks tick down has to take its place somewhere in the cerebral process. Otherwise, roll me out to the curb with the rest of the recyclables.
Consequently, the key to the question of balance lies with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Staying in the moment and reminding oneself, nothing happens until something moves. (You got to love Albert). There is no shortage of great causes demanding one’s time. The complexities of our domestic and international challenges require each of us to not only be informed, but to take action. It’s the adult thing to do, the responsible thing to do. Equally important is to remind those around us how important they are. Too many friends and acquaintances have brushed by not knowing how truly valued they were. Along our paths we very seldom get more than one bite at the apple. When you get the chance, take a small one and remember to share the rest. For now, there is a whole lot to do. To the chagrin of some, I will still stay engaged and try to do it with humor. That does not make the issues any less serious. I’v just tried not to take myself to serious(ly).
Why do we never get an answer
when we’re knocking at the door?
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war
It’s where we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need
In a world of persecution
That is burning in its greed
The Question by Justin Hayward 1970