On Monday, I celebrated 51 years on this planet. It seems like only about three months ago I was celebrating the “big 5-0.” As one of my Internet buddies said, “Welcome to the back nine.”
As we go along, the quicker all of it gets here these days. I know that the seconds, minutes and hours, and such last just as long as they ever did, but it sure seems they are flying by exponentially quicker.
I’ve said this before and I really think it is correct: the more you try to squeeze into the 24 hours you have in your days, the faster those days go by. As a kid, you mark time with four things only — your birthday, the beginning of school, Christmas and the end of school. That was it. Those were the biggies in life, and each of them seemed to take forever to come around.
But as the years roll along and things like relationships, jobs, appointments and everything else we have as a part of our daily existence get added to the ledger, the time eventually just kind of melts as you go along.
It’s kind of like sitting and watching the clock. You do that, and an hour can literally feel like it takes forever by itself. You get yourself busy and immersed in something, the same hour goes by in the blink of an eye.
Much like Christmas, birthdays aren’t quite what they used to be. When you were a kid, Christmas meant unwrapping boxes with unbridled excitement with what might be inside them. These days, you unwrap boxes to see what kind of gift card you got. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. Getting a GI Joe when you are 50 years old doesn’t quite have the oomph it did when you were 10.
The reality of the matter is the older you get the more you understand that the real gifts to be found in life don’t come wrapped in boxes. As a kid, you just don’t have the mileage under you to quite grasp the priceless nature of things like:
— Quiet time spent working in the yard.
— Having a quality conversation with a dog.
— Learning about your family history by talking to your grandparents.
— Sitting on the front porch with a cup of coffee watching hummingbirds fight over nectar.
— Walking down a country road, or through the woods.
— Spending time holding a lawn chair down on a beach.
— Wetting a line, fishing with a child and the conversations that are sure to ensue.
— Chuckling while watching little kids play in a sprinkler on a hot June day.
— Family trips to places where you share the experience of being there together, wherever “there” might be.
— The sweet tone of a good electric guitar in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.
— A really good book.
— A home-cooked meal.
— A nice supper sitting across from someone who loves you and who you love even more.
— Laughter so extended and intense it brings tears to your eyes and leaves you holding your stomach because your muscles got worked out in the process.
— Advice from your parents.
— A Sunday afternoon nap.
— The sound of rain on a tin roof.
— Watching a football game with friends.
— Days when you don’t have to set an alarm clock to wake up.
You get my drift. Life really isn’t about things. It’s about the stuff that you cannot put wrapping paper around. The older you get, I guess the more you figure that out.
I’m not complaining about getting older. Not even close. You are either getting older or you’re not. There isn’t a lot of gray area to be found there. I suppose what really changes as you get more years and miles under you is your perspective. Actually, much of our happiness in life is all about that one thing: perspective. So many times things that seem like curses to begin with actually turn out to be quite a blessing in the end.
Again, so often it’s all about perspective, about how you look at things. Trying to adopt a “glass half full” approach to life is a pretty good way to go about it.
I heard one time that the secret of happiness in this life is not getting more things to make you happy and worrying about those things you don’t have, but finding more ways to be happy with the things you do have. There is much truth to that statement.
I think about all the family, friends, all the students even, who have passed over the river to rest under the shade of the trees. You think about those folks that are no longer here, and you start to grasp the importance of the moment right here in front of your face.
The way I see it, every moment you have is a gift from God. What you do with them is your gift to God.
So, goodbye age 50, and welcome to my world, 51 years old. Here’s hoping to at least 51 more just like you.