As it has every year since first I made my entrance into the world, another birthday is creeping up on me. In the dim, long-ago past, I suppose that was quite exciting—the anticipation, the suspense, the thrill of growing older.
For some time, however, the prospect of celebrating one more year added to the total has held no joy for me. I’d have been quite happy to stop observing birthdays way before now. On the big day, I don’t feel the slightest bit different than on the previous day, yet I’m supposed to feign happiness at reaching another milestone.
In truth, I feel neither happiness nor sadness about it. Relief, maybe, or gratitude, for still being around. But the actual number is of no concern.
Fortunately, my adult family members know how I feel, so the day is long past when they unveil a surprise party, or present me with airline tickets to a destination of my choosing, or arrange for me to be serenaded by a cadre of bored, atonal servers in a fancy restaurant.
Even my five grandchildren lost interest when they realized there’d be no goodie bags—such as they receive at their friends’ birthday parties—if they came for dinner to honour the completion of another year along my journey.
As I said, I’m not unhappy about any of this, nor am I fearful of growing older. Aging is just the way of things, after all. I prefer to think of life as an uninterrupted voyage from womb to…wherever. The fact that I travel ever more slowly as the years unwind is immaterial; the crossing continues until it doesn’t.
One of my pals is fond of saying, “I plan to live forever. So far, so good!” I love his optimism.
Other friends who might have espoused the same sentiment are gone, however, perhaps surprised by the ending of their travels, perhaps relieved. An analogy I’ve heard expressed is that of riding a train, being joined along the way by fellow-travelers, some of whom will disembark ahead of me along the way, some of whom will still be aboard when, at some point, I shall have to get off.
The best part of getting older is the humour that accompanies it, some of it self-deprecating, some of it kindly (I choose to think) foisted on me by family and friends.
It’s better to be over the hill, Dad, than buried under it!
I agree wholeheartedly. I welcome each day on top of the grass.
Growing up is inevitable. Growing old is optional.
Well, in spirit, anyway.
Studies show that people who keep having birthdays live longer!
I’ll drink to that!
You’re pushing eighty, my friend! Isn’t it getting heavy?
Only if I’m not going downhill!
You could ask for a recount!
Not sure they could count this high!
Not sayin’ you’re old, but if you were milk, I’d smell you before pouring a glass.
Okay then, think of me as a fine wine.
You’re only as old as you remember you are!
That’s the problem!
Getting old is like living in a haunted house…lots of unexplained noises and smells!
Ah, that explains it.
Keep your chins up, old pal!
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Getting older isn’t so bad, Dad. Consider the alternative!
If you haven’t grown up by now, Gramps, you don’t have to!
Amen to that!
Laughter certainly helps to cope with aging, even if only because I can claim my wrinkles are laugh-lines. In fact, one of my sisters-in-law has a plaque on her wall declaring, If you don’t have wrinkles, you haven’t laughed enough!
Anyway, my upcoming birthday will be quietly spent with the special someone who has already shared fifty-six of them with me, dating back to high school, and then we’ll continue on our merry way.
It really does come down to this—even if I didn’t enjoy growing older, I wouldn’t want to stop!
From one “geezer” to another: I like the way you write. Take care —
Well, thanks so much for the compliment! I ambled into your blog after hearing from you, and am glad you decided not to stop writing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Brad. Happy Birthday. What about a Barbershop quartet singing for you?
I read the following piece many years ago, and the older I get, the more, meaning it has. The quote from Ps 118 v4 is what I say to myself every morning when I get up. Have a great time whatever you do.
Robert J. Hastings
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are travelling by train
Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands, and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering – waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
“When we reach the station, that will be it!” we cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I get married.” “When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz!” “When I put the last kid through college.” When I have paid off the mortgage”. “When I get a promotion.” “When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:4: “This is the day, which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you will live more richly the moments.”
Anne Morrow Lindburgh
Thanks for the thoughts, Jim, and for the short essay by Hastings. I agree that every day is precious…..we value our yesterdays, enjoy our todays, and hope for our tomorrows.
I wrote this little haiku to reflect my approach—-
I am one with life,
its meandering journey,
going who knows where
Mine arrives on the 30th, “please send money”. So this morning I opened a fancy, pretty, home made card which arrived yesterday when I was too busy to take a look at it; from one of my sister-in-laws. It depicted a lovely cake with candles decorated with single letter signs which when collectively read said “SHITUROLD”. Well even if it is true, thanks a lot eh!
Happy birthday to you too eh!
Wow! These must be the 61st birthdays we’ve celebrated over the course of our friendship, and I’ve always tried to respect my elder…..heh heh heh. It warms my heart that we’re still kicking it up together.
Happy Birthday yet again, mate!
A saying worth considering……” don’t despair about growing older; it’s a privilege denied to many”.
Your analogy of the train is sound….. if we think of life as a journey, a journey with a beginning and a finish; if we’re still on that train, without a lot of discomfort or pain, it’s a good ride, especially when you’re riding with that someone special, and you and I are lucky enough to be doing. Perhaps the best 10 years of my life have been the last 10, with retirement, Harbourtown, (and 90 great guys), and thrilling adventures with HTS, golf twice a week, curling in winter, and Rotary, I don’t know how it could be better. I’m even enjoying this winter.
Thanks for your thoughtful pieces….. so nice to read. BTW, you’re no geezer !
Thanks for the lovely comments, Larry…..much appreciated.
Speaking of Harbourtown Sound, you might also enjoy this post~~~https://tallandtruetales.blog/2016/11/27/music-has-charms/
I’ll be back singing with you in the spring.