I’m going to be straight up honest with you all.
Most of my adult life, I have struggled to figure out who I was supposed to be.
I’m not trying to get too mystical or cosmic on you with this, I’m not talking about my essence or my purpose in the universe or anything that deep, (I’ll probably get to that some day, but right now I’ll keep it simple). I’m just talking about what was expected of me as a grown up.
To put it straight, I was kind of a screw up as a kid. I messed around throughout my school years, and when I graduated, I had absolutely no goals or any idea what I was going to do with my life.
I remember once I was asked by someone what my plans were after graduation. I replied that there was going to be a party up at Malcolm’s that night. It never occurred to me that they meant after I had graduated from high school, like college or the military or that kind of answer.
I had no plan. I was living day to day, just doing my thing. Before I knew it I was a husband and a father and I found myself doing anything I could to feed my family. Because I never considered my future, I just rolled with the punches…and man, were there punches!
Don’t misunderstand me, I regret nothing! It’s just kind of funny how life works. Growing up I never wanted to be a family man, and today it’s the thing I’m most proud of. And why shouldn’t I be? My kids are all grown up, are doing amazing things and have moved out on their own. I’m married to the most amazing woman ever, and soon we’ll be celebrating 30 years of marriage. All this and I have a pretty good career, making okay money and with decent job security, so it would seem that by the standards of today’s society, I got life dicked.
So with all this in mind, I’m successful and should be satisfied as I go towards retirement. All I need to do now is find my condo in Florida and pump money into my 401K, and if the Is permits it, I’ll get to live into my 80s, remembering the good old days and hoping my grandkids will visit some day. This all sounds great, except for one thing.
I’m not going to do that.
I just got the word today that another one of my friends I went to school with passed away. He’s the second one this week and over all, I’ve lost six friends this year. Most of them were due to poor health, caused by years of bad lifestyle habits. All of them probably were counting on making it to retirement, and all of them probably thought they had more time than they did.
All of them were wrong.
My story isn’t that much different than theirs, or anyone else’s. Because we’ve been reactionary all our lives, we did what we had to do to take care of the ones we love. In doing this we put ourselves last and even worse, we put our health last. Now, we’re gambling away the best years of our lives in the hopes that we will live long enough to enjoy our retirement years. This is just plain fucking dumb.
Do you know how many people I’ve known that retired and died within a couple years after their retirement? A bunch, and chances are, you do too. So is that the marker you want to lay your money on? Are you willing to gamble that you don’t need to change anything and that some how, magically you are going to live long into your golden years?
Not me. I’m 52 this year, and as I’ve said before, I’ve treated my body like a landfill. Now I’m shifting gears and changing things up while I got time.
And there’s the question, who the hell do I think I am anyway?
Nobody special. I’m no health and fitness expert. Hell, I’m writing this in a bar on my iPhone for Christ’s sake. I’m a regular joe, just like you, except I’ve subscribed to the belief that I can change my destiny.
One of the toughest things about being in our Fifties is combatting the belief that we need to settle in and become senior citizens. We still want to party and crank out to Def Leppard, but at the same time we’re being told by society we should look for sneakers with Velcro straps instead of laces, and signing up for AARP.
So who do I think I am? I’m someone who finally figured out that I have created my current reality, and I have it within my power to change it.
Can I guarantee I’ll live a long heathy life? Of course not. I could have a meteor come hurtling though the cosmos and squash me like a bug, ( most folks would say hit by a bus, but doesn’t a meteor sound cooler?) But this just establishes my point even more. Why wait for retirement to enjoy life? Get started now! And not for nothing, you will enjoy your life a lot more if you are healthy than if you’re not.
The Terminator said it best, “Come with me if you want to live.” 50 doesn’t have to be the starting point to where we slide into the old folks home, not if we decide differently. It can be where we start something entirely new, and make our future years the best ever.
So the question isn’t really who do I think I am.
The question is, Who the hell do you think you are?
Who do I think I am? Well, Frank, let me tell you. I am NOT an 80 year old who thinks “that we need to settle in and become senior citizens.” No way! Age is a matter of care… if you don’t care, I don’t! (Well that ld cliche’ goes a long way toward saying nothing!! In fact, like you, I “still want to party,” and I do!! I am grateful for my health and my ability to live life to the fullest. It is a blessing that many do not have … I know that – and I do not take it for granted. In fact, let me tell you something, when we are ” told by society we should look for sneakers with Velcro straps instead of laces, and signing up for AARP,” only believe part of that!! Yes, join AARP. The discounts are worth the cost of membership. But keep your sneakers – and add some hiking boots with good sturdy laces. Keep your teeth in good shape. Enjoy a skirt steak at Nordic Brewery every now and then. Invite friends over for “TMW” nights. They love helping us take care of TMW (“Too much wine.”) Keep a dog around for the unconditional love we all crave… and give your spouse lots of kisses, hugs and encouragement. Drink water every time your dog does. S/He knows how to stay hydrated. Live with an attitude of gratitude and a response of generosity, forgiveness, obedience to the Ten Commandments, and INTEGRITY. These tips may not cause you also to live a full and happy life for the next 40 years, but they will surely make the years you do have more peaceful, joyful, and inspirational (to you and to those who know you). Carpe’ Diem!!
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