Monday, November 07, 2011

Of Milestones, Millstones, and Things I've Never Done

In the course of our lives, we pass a number of milestones. Some are denoted by educational achievement, such as grade-school, high-school, or college graduation. Others are measured by professional advancement, such as military or corporate promotion. And then there's age.

The first milestone is our first birthday because, statistically, if you survive your first birthday, you are likely to survive to adulthood. The next is probably the age of 13, because you become a teenager - the first step on the road to adulthood. Twenty-one comes next, because it's the age at which we are considered to be legal adults. In the 1960's, the next milestone would have been age 30, when we automatically became untrustworthy ... because activist Jerry Rubin told us that we were never to trust anyone over that age. Actually, the next milestone is 50 - the half-century point and the height of our traditional professional and personal middle-age.

And then there's 60 - which is where I am today.

Yes, Dear Readers, today Bilbo does the ol' Humpty-Dumpty over the wall of the Big Six-Oh.
It's said that 60 is the new 50, which is the new 40 ... an indication that we're living longer and, at least until the upcoming election, better than ever. I certainly don't feel old, other than the usual litany of aches and pains. Sixty is still a milestone on the road of life, rather than a millstone around my neck. It's an opportunity to take stock of things:

I have a beautiful wife, three great and successful children, and five wonderful grandchildren that I love and of whom I am enormously proud. I'm reasonably well-respected on a professional level, have lots of great friends, and am able to dance well enough that ladies don't run away screaming when I approach. I still have a job (at least, until the government gets done screwing around with the economy).

On the downside, I'm a good deal more grouchy than I used to be. I don't like wasting time on self-centered or incompetent ass clowns, because I have a growing sense of how important time is. I have higher expectations of my elected officials, but expect less. I'm still willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but less likely to give it as long as before ... and much more likely to get ugly if I think I'm getting jerked around.

A while back, and in honor of her 35th birthday, Irregular Tammie posted on her blog a list of 35 things she'd never done. I thought that was a neat idea, but I don't have enough time to generate a list of 60 things I've never done (although the list is, by definition, virtually endless), but here are five things that, at age 60, I've never done:

1. Smoked. Anything. I never saw the point. After all, firefighters will tell you that most people who die in fires die of ... smoke inhalation. Why on earth would you do it on purpose? Plus there's the mess and the bad breath.

2. Taken any illegal substances. Life is good enough without pharmacological enhancement.

3. Visited anywhere in Asia or Africa. I've been all over Western Europe, but never made it to the other continents (I give myself partial credit for South America on the basis of a temporary duty trip to Panama a long time ago).

4. Been arrested (if we don't count traffic tickets).

5. Danced a waltz with Edyta Sliwinska (this one is on my bucket list).

Well, now I'm rambling. I'll just quit now, with this observation: it doesn't matter how old you are ... it's how you use the years that mark the milestones on your way to that age. I've made many mistakes in my life, and I've done things and made choices I'd do differently if I had the opportunity ... but we all have.

On balance, I'm a very happy fellow, looking forward to the coming years.

Except for the 2012 elections.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Gilahi said...

Happy birthday, guy.

KathyA said...

♫ Happy Birthday, dear friend!♫ And as far of things we've never done and lamented:
"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'.”
But that's not your case, is it? :)

PS Unfortunately, you're still younger than I!! :) (Okay only by 5 months, but younger nonetheless).

Bilbo said...

Thanks, Gilahi!

Kathy - you may be older than I, but then, so is Agnes. I have a thing for older women ;-)

Dave Hess said...

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Bill!

Mike said...

HBD. And I have those same five things on my list.

allenwoodhaven said...

Happy B-day! You're too modest to mention all the wisdom you've gained over the years. We're fortunate that you blog to share some of it with us.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Happy Birthday, Bilbo! May you prosper and have a great year and more to come. I enjoy your blog immensely!

Chrissy said...

Happy Birthday!!! I hope you had the most fabulous day!!! You certainly deserve it!

Banana Oil said...

Have a Happy Birthday!

I hope you will visit some nice, warfree place in Asia eventualy.

Amanda said...

Happy Happy Birthday, Bilbo! Its time for you to explore Asia...or Australia!