“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” -George Burns
Today is my birthday. I was born close to noon, so I like to think that explains my penchant for sleeping late. And since I tend to be more of a thinker than a talker, they have a way of always inspiring reflection.
I can remember situations when I was around six or seven that I’d do differently if I could, but I’d not want to rewind my life completely and start over again, practically from square one. Yuck. Can you imagine?
Then there’s the batch of things from my pre-teen and teen years which would also be great to do over. Alas, no luck.
College? Too many things to count. I might’ve majored in advertising, but a lot of my electives delivered a minor in how to deeply wound oneself and carry guilt around for years to come. I’d have made a fantastic Catholic. Still would.
My 20s were spent a-chasin’, as my grandmother used to say. Indeed, I chased too much: stuff, work experience, friendships, relationships and forgiveness. The only thing worthy in that list of chasing is forgiveness, in my opinion, although that comes in time — with a lot of patience and love to me, from me. Everything else that needs chasing isn’t a need at all. It’s a waste of time.
And that’s what my 30s have taught me so far: what’s a waste, what’s been a waste, what’s been worthy and what’s important for the future.
With the exception my needy knee and a few other minor-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things issues (hopefully they stay that way), I don’t feel 37. My boss told me I don’t look it, either, so I suppose that’s a good thing.
Emotionally, however, I feel like a three-year-old on some days, and like a beat up 80-something on others. I suppose that’s my area for improvement over the next few years, until my 40s delivers a new piece of the puzzle. Emotional consistency.
Tonight I am thankful for another year in the books and for the knowledge — with the occasional shimmer of wisdom — that life brings. We certainly can’t stop getting older, but we can avoid getting old by keeping that same child-like, wide-eyed curiosity of our youth and carrying it with us through the decades. It won’t be a bandage for our missteps and it certainly won’t be a compass, but it’s mandatory for resiliency and healing, for blazing new trails and for finding new stones to turn over.