How does it feel to be sixty years old?
Not so great. To quote the late, great Leonard Cohen, “I ache in the places where I used to play.”
Physically, I’m worn down and wiped out, and carry the greenish bruises on various parts of my body from falls I’ve taken. My eye to hand coordination and my sense of balance have degraded to the point that simple things, like, hanging insulation in my work shop to typing this piece, have become difficult. My vision becomes blurred and cross-eyed as my eyes grow tired, and my voice has grown weak to the point that too often I’m drowned out when I try to communicate.
Every day I’m witnessing new levels of ugliness that I’ve never seen before in this great country that I love so much. The places, the people, and the values that’ve been so important to me have faded and worn away, and I feel alone. These dark days of violence and selfishness, cowardice and unfounded fear, prejudice and hatred, have turned victims of horrible violence into vile foreigners to be feared instead of embraced, to be met with a closed fist instead of open arms. It’s a place I don’t recognize anymore, where a charlatan and liar has taken control of our collective psyche and divided us with language and actions so despicable and outrageous that every day achieves a new low, and we become more numbed and anesthetized than the day before. I don’t recognize these soulless zombies walking the countryside, and in the empty and expressionless glances they shoot at me, it’s obvious that they sure don’t recognize me. I’ve become a relic, a stranger in a strange land, a solitary time traveler, from out of a dark and forgotten past.
And then, just when it seems that things couldn’t get any grimmer, or darker, a number on a calendar becomes a representative for today, my 60th birthday, and I find myself surrounded by family. Empty shadows and silence are replaced by warmth and laughter, and I and my faith are restored.
My daughter recently became engaged, and her fiancé is with her as she visits this weekend. The more I get to know Zach, the more I appreciate what a kind, generous, and decent guy he is. It’s amazing to see my daughter in love, and the fact that she’s found the perfect match restores the faith I’ve lost in myself, and in the world where I live. It’s the simple fact that in a world so ugly and divided that love not only still exists, but that it is still the most powerful force in the universe
So how does it feel to be sixty years old?
It feels damned good.