I turned fifty-seven this year. Terrible.
I am in the final quarter of life. There is no denying it. A lot of games are lost or won in the final quarter. I plan to win.
About ten years ago, I noticed the upper-back-part of my head was going flat. It used to be round back there and suddenly it wasn’t. I remember wondering, “How can your head go flat?” I have since solved the mystery. What of my hair that wasn’t turning white; was jumping ship. Now all my hair is white and I have less of it than ever. I would say I have a bald spot but said “spot” is big enough to land a helicopter. Perhaps I have a cranial helicopter pad. A couple years back, my granddaughter Mabry asked me, “Papa, why is all the hair on the back of your head falling off?” I told her I have ruled out good luck. I think I would prefer a flat head.
Feeling older however, is a recent phenomenon. I felt as young at fifty as I did at forty. I made the National Softball Association (NSA) Gold Illinois State Championship All-Tournament Team as a fifty-one year old shortstop just six years ago. It seems like another lifetime ago. Perhaps two lifetimes… The next four years of softball that followed established clearly that my ability to compete with twenty and thirty year old athletes was over and in 2017 I retired. I played this year. I will retire again next year.
Retired to what you may ask? Getting older.
Fifty-seven is not great. My big accomplishment these days is that I am not on regular medication. It seems to impress people at the doctor’s office but I haven’t put it on a tee-shirt. Not yet anyway.
Today I was thinking about life and decided to share seven pieces of advice with you. Now that I am an old dude, I think I am supposed to do that kind of thing:
- Fill your bucket list Regardless of your age, life comes with no guarantees and no clear expiration date. If you have stuff you still want to do, you had best crack at it.
- Make time for important things I have a mental file labeled, “Things I Will Never Regret.” I try to put something into it every day. Quality time with the aging people you love fits quite nicely into that file. So does time with grandkids and dinners out with Melissa.
- Lean into what amazes you I worship like a flaming charismatic these days. I find myself desperate for God. I enjoy nature as I never have before and I am blown away by sunsets, rushing rivers and mountain views. I love the way that clouds look from a plane, my semi-annual trips to Israel and that I get to travel to some many wonderful places, meet such interesting people and see such incredible things. Sunrises are awesome too…I hear they are anyway.
- Live Humbly I find myself more aware of the contributions of others to my success these days; more comfortable with the big picture, less concerned about the little stuff and thankful to God for any abilities He may have had entrusted to me. I am so grateful for the friends, mentors, peers and the staff with whom I have served over the years. You are never tempted to think you are the smartest person in the room when you realize you are the most blessed.
- Keep it Simple Since life has forced me to slow down a bit, I have developed an appreciation the for the things you miss at high speeds Time with children and grandchildren, sitting by a backyard fire on a cool evening, a soak in a hot tub, the way the stars fill the sky like diamonds on clear nights, fresh snow, good music, leaves in the fall, a good meal and the sound of running water are such things.
- Live until you die Aging is inevitable but getting old is optional. I can feel myself drifting toward becoming more impatient, inflexible, recalcitrant, curmudgeoned and less inclined to try new things by the year. I have decided to fight it tooth (increasingly implants) and nail because there is no upside. Some days I have to remember to smile. It will be time to stop living when I die.
- Finish Well These days I sometimes flip over my proverbial baseball card and look at the stats on the back. Not bad. I have been married thirty-six years, raised two incredible children, have four beautiful grandchildren nearby and have more people who care about me than I deserve. My life has been spent doing something that matters and I have few regrets. I am proud of the life I have lived and honored by the people who have shared that life with me. Having run well, I pray for the grace to finish well. It is a good prayer.
I don’t know what lies ahead. As you get older, the future seems more uncertain than ever. I do know I will one day die and that I am not dead yet. I still have more hair to lose! I am still trying out how to make the next and last transition in life; the shift from the third to the fourth quarter. Perhaps I will become a body builder. Like all those old guys you see on television with abs of steel, traps like Tarzan and guns for biceps. But then again, those guys are also tanned, have full heads of hair (with pigment) and don’t eat pizza. On second thought, I will just keep on pressing on and praying for the wisdom and grace to figure it all out…and eat pizza. I am still going to eat pizza.
So here I come year fifty-eight …I am not afraid of you.
My best days are still ahead!
I hope yours are as well!