Monday, June 29, 2020

Turning 65 ---Things I've Noticed In The Rear View Mirror

It was clearly inevitable. It was going to happen. There is only one way to avoid it and it is not a happy option because it involves people crying and getting sappy and then eating potato salad.  And people talking about what a nice guy you were. That's all fine and good but by then it's really a little late, don't you think? Better a text from  my kids now than a Kleenex full of nose blows later. But I digress.

Today is the last day I will live in my "pre-sixty-five" years.

The way I look at it every American has three majorly significant birthdays.  The rest are all clutter and record-keeping.  Eighteen is big.  It marks your entry into adulthood.  It looks so attractive for all of those adolescent years. And then it hits and nothing changes.  If you mess up you can now go to big-boy prison. And I guess you can vote. But as we are once again remembering, there is no one worth voting for. So you can save your gas.  Twenty-one is bigger.  You can drink.  Big whoop.  But you are officially an adult now and most of us don't realize what we've lost in the passing of our adolescence until it is too late.  Twenty-one is when I found out what it is like to work midnights and pay rent.  That was certainly not what I had been dreaming of all those years. And then there is sixty-five.  For a long time it had that far-off glow of being the day most people officially retire. And then they realized that Social Security is totally robbed, depleted, and irreparable.  So we work on.

I've spent the better part of the last week gazing into the rearview mirror of my life.  I've noticed some things that I thought might be worth pointing out to those who are still driving down the middle years of life's highway.  Nothing terribly profound.  Certainly nothing depressing or even sad.  Just stuff I've noticed.  And if I had to do it all over again (note:  I do not want to.  I'm good right where I'm at, thank you very much.) here are the things I would probably tell myself.  Don't bother arguing with me about them unless you are at least 23,742 days old.  Because that's how old I'll be tomorrow and I know better than you do.  Besides, I have earned the right to be self-righteous and grumpy. They make movies about people like me and guys like Walter Matthau or, if you are lucky, Clint Eastwood star in them. So shaddup and listen, young 'en.

Hey, kid.  Don't worry about it. Don't worry about what?  Don't worry about ANYTHING. Just live your life doing the next right thing and trust God.  That's one of the few things you really get to decide.  You get to decide whether or not you are going to trust God.  Most everything else is out of your hands. Fortunately, they are not out of His.  No fear.  Just faith.  You'd do well to learn that early on.

Hey, punk.  Doctor's know stuff.  Pay attention to what they tell you. But don't pay such close attention that you forget that pizza can be amazing, chocolate chip cookies with ice cold milk will make any day a better day, and a good cheese burger is always better than a mediocre steak.  Oh, and it's okay to order fish at a steakhouse but it is NOT okay to order steak at a fish house.  God set life up so that you might enjoy some of it.  It does not make Him mad when you smile. I suspect He does a lot of that Himself.

Hey, show-off.  It's people that count.  Always people.  I've never owned anything that mattered.  Oh, I've owned some things that I've enjoyed.  But none of them really mattered. When I lost them or broke them or sold them it turned out not to be a big deal. But every person I've ever known has mattered.  Even the jerks. Even those who totally ticked me off.  Even those I have had to remove from my life because we could not seem to stop hurting each other.  I've always known in my heart that they were still more important and precious than my most valuable thing. I didn't like it much but I knew it.  And you need to know it too.

Hey, Mr. Nobody.  You are not a loser.  No matter that your little league coach thought you were only slightly better than a Golden Retriever because at least you didn't wait for the ball to stop rolling before you picked it up. No matter that no one in your gene pool has ever made a layup.  No matter that you never learned to swim or ice skate. No matter that you hate camping and would rather go to the dentist than on a float trip. No matter that you hair is getting thin, your nose is still crooked, or that your front teeth keep busting off. No matter that you learned early on that "Ronnie just doesn't live up to his potential." No matter that you never forget a face but never remember a name. No matter that you can quote a huge amount of the Bible  but can't remember where more than five of verses are located.  No matter that you were taught, "preacher's are only good for one thing … preaching." and yet you've been one for 46 years.

You see, kid, somewhere around the age of sixty-five you suddenly realize that only one thing counts.  Just one thing.  It isn't how many problems you've solved (very few,) or how you've rescued society from the darkness of its evil self (nobody can do that but Jesus.  Sorry.  Try all you want but when you get tired come and see me.  I'm not lying to you.)  It isn't your enneagram, your IQ, your GPA, or the square feet of your house. That one thing is … What does God say about me?  Does He love me?  Do I trust Him?  Is He always there for me?  Is He keeping His promises?  Is He trustworthy?  Does He smile or does He frown when He looks at me?  HE IS EVERYTHING.  All the rest … except for loving God and loving people … is a smoke screen.

I figure I'm well into the 4th quarter of my life.  That should entitle me to tell you the truth. If you pay attention maybe it will save you a little trouble down the home-stretch.  It's closer than you think. And if I'm wrong (I'm not)  I'll probably be gone before you figure it out.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Stupid Picture Chonicles #74

I take this personally...