I’m 63 years old today. I started the day, of course, by going for a run. it was a lovely early summer morning, 19C and sunny. The neighbourhood streets I ran on were almost deserted. (Early on a Saturday morning in the suburbs is a great time to run.) I did a good 8K run at a brisk pace, enlivened by the morning air and a sense of wonder that I’ve actually made it to age 63.
Not that my life has been very different from that of most other middle-class Westerners. I haven’t had to live through the burden of grinding poverty, the horror of war, or the devastation wrought by tsunamis, tornadoes, or volcanic eruptions. I’ve been fortunate in that, simply because of the accidents of where and when I was born.
On the other hand, like everyone else who’s lasted 63 years on this earth, I’ve survived a variety of conditions, circumstances, and happenings. I made it through the hoopla and giddiness of being young in the 1960s, for example. I survived being run over by a truck six years ago. I’ve made it through two bouts of prostate cancer and the two series of radiation treatments that went with them. I’ve begun to sort out what it means to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Last but certainly not least, I have, though nominally an intelligent person, survived not a few periods of my life when I’ve simply been as dumb as a box of hair.
What have I learned? First, as the title of this post says, the road goes ever on. (Thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien, for that wonderful phrase.) It really is a journey, folks. The beginning and the end are pretty clearly defined, so it’s up to us to take the potentially empty middle and give it some purpose and meaning. Second, I’ve learned that there’s no point – and no value – in either whining or boasting. It’s not all about me, and the world really doesn’t owe me anything at all. Third, I’ve learned that there’s no reason to hurry. The road is there, for whatever time I’ve got left, so I might as well enjoy it while I can. Last of all – and perhaps most importantly – I’ve learned that I’m loved. That, for a variety of reasons, has been the most difficult lesson of all for me. I’m grateful that it’s happened at last.
I feel old. That’s not a bad thing at all. 63 is old. I’ve got the wounds, the scars, the memories, and the wisdom to prove it. They’re all reasons to celebrate.