When I turned 30, it was a tough year. Somewhere along the line, I’d heard someone say, “If you’re not doing what you love by the time you’re 30, you’ll never do it.” Thirty meant that I had left my teen years and innocent 20s behind me, and had to become an adult. Thirty meant that I was stuck in the rut of traditional adulthood.
At that time, I was stuck in a job I didn’t like, believing that control of my life had been taken from me. Funny thing was, when I turned 31, I was OK. Thirty-one is a lot less painful than 30. And that’s when reality sunk in: 30 is just a number, as is 40, 50, and so on. If we didn’t keep the tradition of marking the anniversary of the day we were born, we would never know the difference.
Well, today I hit the double of that: 60. When I was young, I never would have believed that I would live long enough to be 60, but it sure beats the alternative. What does it mean to be 60? It means that I can’t move like when I was 20 or 30, that my back complains when I try to do the things I used to do. But it also means that I have learned from my many, many mistakes, and hopefully am a little wiser than I used to be. Mind you, age and wisdom are not synonymous, but it takes a little wisdom to make it to old age. So, at the risk of falling into the cliche of the old, wise professor, here are a few things I have learned about life in the past 60 years:
1. Life is short. You will not believe how quickly 60 years flies by. And because of that, you need to learn to live in the moment. There are no guarantees in life. Jobs come and go, friends come and go. All that you have is today. So rather than putting stuff off, do it today. If you delay it, you might never do it.
2. Family trumps jobs every time. When you have labored over that job for 40 or 50 years and finally retire, no one will weep for you. It will most likely be family–not colleagues–who are there at your funeral. You will come back a month later, and it will be as if you never worked there. Jobs are there for one purpose: to make enough money to support your family. There might be another:
3. Find a job you enjoy. Yes, you need to earn a living, but when you consider 40 years of your life going toward something, you need to do something that you love. If you can’t make a living at it, then do it on the side. But don’t wait for a reward when you retire. Reward yourself before then.
4. Be kind to people. Cruelty does no one any good. Revenge gets you nowhere. But kindness not only rewards those you talk to and respond to, but you as well. Kindness is underrated. Kindness is a good thing.
5. Remember Micah 6:8. “He has shown thee, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of thee? But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” We often make religion a lot more complicated than it needs to be. This spells it out so even the simplest of us can understand it.
So the moral is, enjoy your life, for as long as you have it. I know I have.