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On Turning 60

1 rating: 4.0
Celebrating your 60th birthday
1 review about On Turning 60

Reflections of a newly-minted sexagenarian.

  • Jul 13, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+4

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see." --- John Burroughs

I turn 60 today. Some folks would freak out. Frankly, I don't spend a whole heck of a lot of time worrying about my age. I never have. But I thought this might be a good time to pause and take stock. I would like to share a few of my thoughts with you. If I am a bit more long-winded than usual I beg your indulgence.

I grew up in a hard-working, blue-collar neighborhood. In those days you knew who your neighbors were. Many a summer evening was spent chit-chatting on a neighbor’s front steps or playing catch with a friend in the street. Times were much simpler and people looked out for each other. I cherish those memories. These folks possessed a lot less “stuff” than we have today but overall it seems to me that they were much happier than many people are today. Families lived in the same houses for 20, 30 or 40 years or more and people didn’t change jobs so much. They were content with what they had. Children had roots back then. Much of this has been lost over the past 50 years.

 

My parents certainly wanted their two sons to be successful in life. They instilled in us solid values and a strong work ethic. But I think it was much more important to them that their sons would grow up to be involved and productive citizens. I like to think that my brother and I have both succeeded in this regard.

 

Speaking of my parents, I am extremely fortunate that as I turn 60 mom and dad are still alive and well.

 

I had to wait an awfully long time but I finally found the love of my life when I was 34 years old. I was convinced that I would be a bachelor for the rest of my life. I had just never met the right girl. I met Molly in late 1985 after she answered a personal ad I had posted in a local newspaper. This was not the kind of thing I ordinarily would do. And replying to such an ad was not her usual style either. But when I received her reply letter I knew immediately this was the lady I was going to marry. No kidding. Molly and I have been happily married since 1987. Meeting Molly was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. This experience taught me a very valuable lesson: sometimes you have to think “outside the box” to find what you are looking for.

 

I am by no means a religious fanatic but I am proud to say that my Catholic faith has played an important role in my life. In the Gospel, Jesus said “I am with you always.” I firmly believe that. Faith in God gives me strength in difficult times. It helps me to forgive those who have done me harm. Furthermore, faith in God gives me hope. In these extremely troubled times it is very easy to fall into a state of despair. Hope whispers to me: “Try it one more time.” I attend Mass on Sundays to worship God and to thank him for his many blessings. Going to Mass every Sunday serves as a constant reminder that my role in this life is to love and serve others.

 

I have been blessed with exceptionally good health. I feel better today than I did when I was 30. I have not consumed any deep -fried food in over 20 years and weigh about 40 lb. less than I did in 1981. Fortunately, I have never broken a bone and I have not had an injection of any kind since I was in high school. I might add that I have never been drunk in my life nor have I ever ingested any illegal substances. If that makes me a bit weird then so be it.

 

I developed a passion for reading when I was in my early 50’s. Since then I have read about one non-fiction book per week. I love to explore all kinds of subjects. I find that reading really broadens your horizons. Likewise, I love to write and Lunch.com has proven to be a perfect outlet for me. I have been writing reviews on Lunch for nearly three years now and enjoy the give and take within the community.

 

I still don’t handle setbacks of any kind particularly well. I need to work on that.

 

I never bought into to the notion that “You can have it all.”  You can’t.  As far as I am concerned having such unrealistic expectations is one of the main reasons that the divorce rate is approaching 50%.

 

I must say that in general I have been very disappointed by my generation.  As I look around at the sorry state of our country these days I place the blame squarely where it belongs....on the Baby Boomers. From where I sit Boomers turned out to be far more materialistic and greedy than the parents lots of these folks rebelled against in the 1960's.  We have squandered our wealth and natural resources in the name of comfort and convenience.  The world that we are leaving to our children and grandchildren is certainly not a better place than the one that we inherited.    
 

You only make a handful of true friends in your lifetime. Two of my closest friends passed away at around age 50. Paul suffered a massive heart attack while Jeff had a fatal aneurysm. Both died before their beloved Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004. I still miss them and think of them often. I was so sure we would grow old together.

 

I can read the tea leaves and I have no illusions.   I probably will not be able to retire until I am 70.

 

The average lifespan for a male in America is now 76. That gives me a mere 16 years remaining.  Pretty scary, huh?  Guess I better start taking advantage of all of those senior discounts.

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Reflections of a freshly-minted sexagenarian. Reflections of a freshly-minted sexagenarian. Reflections of a freshly-minted sexagenarian. Reflections of a freshly-minted sexagenarian.

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July 19, 2011
Happy belated birthday, Paul! And what a milestone. Thank you for sharing the reflections of your newly-minted sexagenarian-ism :)
 
July 19, 2011
Wow--extremely well written and thought provoking for sure. You're right; life was much simpler back then-I'm just about 50, and I miss those days. You have counted your blessings and sometimes that is rare for people to do also! Happy 60th and may you have many more years to come.....thank you for sharing.....
 
July 18, 2011
Thanks Paul for sharing some of your life's wisdom. I see a lot of similarities in our paths and it is good to have some insights into one of the biggest Lunch contributors.
 
July 18, 2011
Wise and wonderful reflections, Paul. Thanks so much for sharing them! May your 60th be the best year yet!
 
July 13, 2011
Appreciate the kind words. Think I'll create a series of data points "On Turning 30", on "Turning 40" etc so people can share their thoughts as they reach these milestones.
 
July 13, 2011
Incredibly well written, Paul and a very Happy Birthday to you! I found the love of my life relatively late in life, I guess, at the age of 29 and was married to him this last May at the age of 33. I hope that we are as happy as you and your wife are 27 years from now. When I hear stories like yours of growing up, I wish that it was still like that nowadays. I am a bit younger than you but, shared a similar childhood. I feel sorry for my niece, at the age of 10, that she doesn't get out to explore or play outdoors with her friends until the street lamps come on. I feel upset with my brother when she's playing video games instead of running around making tree forts. I feel sad for the Y Generation and the Millenials- those kids are a mess with very little hope of getting better. But, still there are some stories of hope and inspiration when these same hopeless kids take charge and do good for others as well as the environment. I could go on but, wanted to say thank you for this and all my best to you on your birthday!
July 19, 2011
This is true but, in criticism there's always an ounce of truth. I'm Gen X and we've lived up to a couple of our criticisms, we are the lost generation and in the 90s most of us were slackers LOL. There, of course, is good reason to be lost- we aren't as fortunate as the Boomers that could get a good job with a Bachelor's degree and get in on an entry-level position to work up the corporate ladder to get an executive level job. We bought into the mindset that if we studied hard and got a degree, we could do the same thing which just isn't true anymore. You might get an executive level job with a Master's but, mostly, we are redefining the corporate ladder and we have restructured how people do business, so yes we may have started off as slackers but, in the end, we are changing the way people do things and that's the job of the next generation- to change what the previous generation had established. Or at least challenge it...
 
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