I have a birthday coming up next week and I cannot seem to convince anyone that I truly just as well let it slip by. “Nothing, really nothing,” is the answer I repeatedly give my wife when she asks what I want to do when the day comes. I say, “The best gift you can give me is to ignore it.”
Okay, so I am being a miserable old curmudgeon. I’m really not. I’ve always been a realist…especially about reality! Birthdays are reality. You spend most of your younger years wishing you were older and most of your older years wishing you were younger. It is not a fair game and no matter how much you attempt to slow it down, you relentlessly keep marching around the board, passing “go” and keep on keepin’ on until you pull that black card that says, “Do not pass ‘go,’ go directly to the cemetery.”
Oh, I’ll be 71. I suppose some of you may be asking that. I am still healthy enough to get from one place to another, remember to brush my teeth and, most times, I remember what I wanted to get when I make the painful trip up the stairs to get it. There are a few times, however, when I don’t. Those moments of forgetfulness seem to be increasing.
I am probably no different from most people my age. I plan to be around, I hope, for maybe another reasonably healthy twenty years and then bid a peaceful farewell in my sleep. That would be nice.
I am still seeking some form of self-accomplishment. I was hoping one of my books would fulfill that wish, but I may have to turn to something else. It’s getting late in the game to be a star athlete or an accomplished chess master. Just the thought of reading the Pulitzer book list is a nifty goal, but my eyes and concentration capacity have tossed that idea to the curb.
Meanwhile, there are lots of things I regret having not accomplished by now. I do not play an instrument—something I have attempted twice but abandoned both times for one reason or another. I would like to be more handy with things like carpentry or taking on home improvement projects. I’m very good at measuring twice before cutting once. In fact, I am so anal I usually measure three or four times, but still manage to screw it up. While others in woodshop back in 8th grade were building birdhouses or little desktop bookcases, I spent the entire semester trying to cut and bevel the mandatory practice piece to the precise dimensions required.
Actually, my life has been no different. I am still trying to get the practice piece right. I am not one to give up. I feel compelled to emphasize that I in no way feel a failure. However, like anyone else, I accept that I have a few shortcomings and a few things I do well…just sorting them out and lining them up in proper order is what takes up energy and the passage of time. Lately, the process is quickening…right at the point when my pace is slowing. As I said, it is not fair.