If youth is a curable disease, I must be getting healthy. A few days ago I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a sixty-year-old man staring back at me. Even a mention of the year 1958 seems long ago and oh so far away.
And now I sit here trying to look through an Apple monitor and see that thirty-year-old, trying to recall the best and the worst of times. I can almost imagine the shadow of that skinny, ambitious, and incredibly naive young man and hear the sounds of “success” foreshadowed as I finally walked across the stage in Palm Beach, Florida with a hard-earned Bachelor’s degree in music.
Then I blinked and now I’m sixty. So what now? It comes down to just two choices. Get busy living or get busy dying. That choice, for me at least, has always had the same answer.
Stay busy living. And in doing so, you inevitably make decisions that cost you dearly. And most people—the ones who have chosen to die—look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’re doing at all, or why you thought it was so crucial that you “gave up everything” while you were doing it.
That’s the worst, I think—when the secret of living stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear. Disapproving family, dismissive friends, vindictive critics. Sometimes I think the most exceptional talent of all is perseverance.
During a marathon training run a few years ago, a friend mentioned through ragged breaths that his twenty-year-old-self would probably not recognize his current fifty-year-old self. As I approach age sixty in three weeks, I can say without a doubt that my thirty-year-old person would not begin to know my sixty-year-old self.
The busyness of living should change every aspect of our lives—mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. A complete makeover. Here are sixteen essentials of my being that have wholly transformed over the past three decades.
1) At 30 I had all the answers, at 60 I have lots of questions.
2) At 30 I was obsessed with learning, at 60 I am concerned with knowing.
3) At 30 I devoured business books, at 60 I savor philosophy.
4) At 30 I repressed fantasy, at 60 I express my wildest imaginings.
1) At 30 I embraced religion, at 60 it repels me.
2) At 30 I espoused the supernatural, at 60 I lean toward the natural.
3) At 30 I was imprisoned by rules, at 60 I am condemned to be free.
4) At 30 I believed in a literal hell, at 60 I know that hell is other people.
1) At 30 sex was quiet, proper and lasted about six minutes, at 60 sex is loud, erotic and can last for hours. No viagra needed.
2) At 30 I thought life was a marathon, at 60 I know it is a succession of short sprints.
3) At 30 I excised, reasoned, and crucified the body, at 60 I reconcile, reveal, and exalt the body.
4) At 30 I spent most of my life indoors, at 60 I spend most of my time outside.
1) At 30 I was kind to others, at 60 I am kind to myself.
2) At 30 I followed the rules, at 60 the only rule is there are no rules.
3) At 30 I coveted accolades and awards, at 60 they are meaningless, sitting on the dusty shelves of life unnoticed.
4) At 30 I was ashamed of tears, at 60 I know they reveal the mystery of my soul.