Every day, I watch an 89-year-old man scuffle into work. He’s always dressed nicely—in a dark suit with a maroon tie or a brown-flecked sweater vest with an argyle tie. He rarely smiles. In fact, he looks a tad grouchy most days. But he arrives each morning to a company he built over 60 years ago to do the work he loves. (At least, that’s my supposition.)
We only greet each other with a brief “good morning” before we move to our respective desks. To each our own.
I wonder often if he is happy.
If he’s ever wanted more than just work.
If he’s experienced other pieces of life.
I ponder what goes on beneath the surface of his every day routine. Then, one hot, sunny afternoon, at a park, I saw this gentleman holding his great-grandson. The baby smiled, toothless, drooling on his great-grandpa’s weathered hand.
And the gentleman was smiling—no, outright grinning.
“That’s the key,” I mused. “The well-rounded life.”
I am 56 years younger than this man. I’m sure if I conversed for a long while with him, he would offer me many wise observations. Still, as I face another birthday, however, I am full of my own musings, reflections, and comments.
So, here’s what’s on my mind:
- Work is good. We must labor to provide for our families and contribute to society, but work must not preempt rest. Let us not lose our souls in the day-to-day grind of our work-obsessed culture.
- The world is violent and alarming. Yet fear cannot triumph, for “he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world,” as John the Apostle wrote. I refuse to be paralyzed.
- Sometimes the dishes (or laundry or housecleaning) can wait while a book is read to a little one who tugs at your hand and says, “Please.”
- Unconditional love means no requirements, no judgment, and no vitriol. Otherwise, it’s not unconditional.
- Happiness is not impossible to maintain – it just requires attention to the inner being.
- Listening never gets me in trouble, but talking does. King Solomon wasn’t joking when he warned about the danger of the tongue. I’m blown away by the power of the simplest of words.
- I’m never going to stop eating chocolate.
- I don’t want to become complacent and greedy. The more blessed I am, the more I am compelled to bless others. Call me out on my selfishness any time because I’m terrified to become a dry, withered, bitter woman.
- Seriously, can we stop the shaming of fellow moms? Motherhood is just plain, old challenging work. We can do without the snide comments and judgmental attitudes. As women, please, let’s support each other.
- Also, can we move past requiring our men to be our knights in shining armor? Let them be who they are – completely human, just as broken and messed up, and just as deserving of love as we are. So, ladies, let’s stop tramping down the men in our lives, and start them building up.
- I’m really excited about getting an AARP discount. That’s just a cool perk of getting older. (Ok, I know I have 25 years more to go before that, but still….)
- And while I’m on that track, when I’m in my 80’s, I’m definitely getting some sort of emergency call system just to get handsome, hunky firemen to my house to “rescue me”.
- There is a mindset which says growing older is a problem. In American society, it seems we enjoy ‘sectioning off’ our elderly so we don’t have to be around the aging process. We fight to not get older; we pay thousands of dollars each year to look younger. I’m more than a little saddened by things. Aging is a natural part of life. Some of the most influential people in my life have been my grandparents, the older couples at my church, and my elderly neighbors in Germany. My son regularly visits the retirement community where my parents work on a regular basis. I want him to be exposed to these wonderful, wise, witty people who are in the latter half of life.
- Parenting requires skill, confidence, and strength. Whew.
- Parenting requires love, laughter, and a whole lot of hugging. My son enjoys “group hugs” currently, so the three of us wrap our arms around each other tightly several times a day.
- The world is so much bigger than my backyard. Even though I don’t travel often now, I want to raise my son with this knowledge: just because someone looks different from you doesn’t mean they don’t belong.
- God means more, is more, and does more than my finite mind can comprehend. Just studying the universe and its inner workings has convinced me. I am an infant in my understanding of the spiritual, and I do not presume to make claims to know it all. Perhaps in my younger years, I was more certain. For now, I wrestle daily with my doubts, and constantly appeal to grace, mercy, and love. Those are the forces I trust.
- I’m no longer interested in arguments or debates. If you have a differing viewpoint than me, I want to have a conversation with you. I don’t want to convince you of my side, nor do I want you to convince me of your side. I want to listen. I want to be heard.
- Marriage is work—sweaty, fun, and great Listen, forgive, and always put your partner first.
- Life is wonderful, pulsing with energy and hope. It is also fleeting. A mist that fades quickly. I’m determined to savor it, touch it, and remember it. Every touch. Every giggle. Every word. Every moment. I’m taking the cue from the gentleman at my work. Life is so much more than the daily grind, the bi-weekly paycheck, and the corporate ladder.
So, that’s it…. 20 things.
Did you think I would have 33 reflections because I’m 33?
Sorry to disappoint you.
I’m not wise enough to have 33 deep reflections to keep your interest for any longer. You may want to speak with the an older generation for any further tidbits on the fullness of life. Meanwhile, I’m certain that some of you have dozed off during this reading.
In lieu of reading any further, please feel free to do one of the following things:
- Eat chocolate cake.
- Walk on the beach barefoot.
- Lose yourself in a moment.
Say it’s for my birthday.