Next month will mark my 55th birthday. Maybe I should look at this benchmark as the “back stretch” rather than “coming around the clubhouse turn”, as they say in horse racing. The reality is that I’m not happy about the occasion, but it could be worse. Worse as in dead, or worse than dead, disabled. Other than a few random aches and pains, I’m in decent shape. And I’m making a conscious effort to improve for the rest of this year. Lose a little weight, work out more often, etc.
On the mental side, I have noticed some interesting phenomena. While I never have been a patient person, I seem to have developed a slightly higher level of patience, in certain situations. Not for the stupid or ignorant humans, but for those who show at least a glimmer of something noteworthy, i.e. common sense, a work ethic, a willingness to help others (selflessness) and so on. I will sometimes engage in, or even initiate, a conversation with a stranger. Up until a few years ago, this would have never happened. I seem to be more at ease with some of my fellow man, possibly because I’m more comfortable with myself.
A natural pessimist, I now find myself continually looking for the good in any situation. Again, not my usual M.O. And while I’m not the Dalai Lama, I try to leverage my experience, good and bad, to counsel others whenever possible. Maybe I’m growing up.
Here’s another interesting life change. I’ve spent my work life accumulating stuff (aka “things”). A nice house, a few dollars here and there, a small boat, furniture, tools, a couple of guns, a ’76 Toyota FJ40 and a ’67 Lincoln Continental convertible. The two latter items are great illustrations of my point. It seems that at any given time, either car is in the shop. I understand they are older vehicles and that maintenance can be more frequent and often more expensive due to scare parts. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that I don’t actually own the cars, or any of the other stuff in my possession. In fact, it owns me. I work to generate dollars that I turn around and pour into these things. And in most cases, the stuff becomes less valuable over time.
The result: I have come to almost resent the cars. And the big yard and the ___________ (fill in the blank). My solution, I’m putting the Lincoln up for sale in the fall. My mantra for the remainder of 2011 is to downsize, simplify and improve the quality of my life.