Yesterday was my 62nd birthday. Somewhere between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. I passed from 61 to 62 with relative ease, only pausing long enough to say something rather profane when I stubbed my toes on the same stump that I stubbed them on two weeks ago.
Despite the bruised and broken toes, it was a great day. In fact, it was one of the best birthdays that I can remember. Marie, my brother Tom, his wife Sue, Neska (our dog) and I soaked up the sun at Playa Caracas (Red Beach) where we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the best (and only) Chef in the house.
The morning started off with chocolate donuts, not on my list of everyday foods, but fun nonetheless. Breakfast was followed by a delicious lunch at the beach, including jerked chicken, macaroni salad, jalapeno potato chips, and chocolate cupcakes. Upon our return, we ate one of my three most favorite foods for dinner, tacos! Desert included a folklore concert in the plaza (all sung all in Spanish, I might add), along with some great licorice. Not the fake stuff, either; the really good stuff. Needless to say, then entire day was a culinary delight, thanks to Marie, who has a tendency of making every day delightful, culinary or not!
It wasn’t only Marie that made the day special, however, as I received dozens and dozens of birthday greetings from around the world, including a wonderful rendition of “Happy Birthday ” by two Israeli hitch hikers we picked up at the beach. All of our children checked in, as well as my mom and dad, my brothers, a host of relatives, and many others too numerous to list. They showed up by phone, Instant Messenger, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and yes, even in person. It was indeed a special day, and I thank each and every one of you.
It was my dear friend Rex, however, who prompted this post, with his request for “wisdom” to be shared. Not that I consider myself any wiser than Rex (or any of you, for that matter), but Rex asked, and I, never short for words, felt compelled to respond.
So, here are a few of the things that I have learned, or have grown to believe, these past 61 years. I kept the list to ten, as I could have gone on forever, and saved the best for last. I hope you enjoy them!
- Learn to love yourself… If you don’t know how, ask for help, but don’t wait as long as I did.
- Walk at least two miles every day… your body will thank you and so will those who love you.
- Give up alcohol… let nature lift your spirits and surprise you every day with its laughter and light.
- Learn a foreign language… humble yourself in front of native speakers as you learn to fit into “their” world.
- Play a lifetime instrument… take it with you everywhere you go (this excludes the trombone and piano, of course).
- Don’t be afraid to fail… it is the most important thing you will do in your life, and failure can, and does, create success.
- Get your sugar from someone you love… ditch the artificial stuff, the real stuff, and the in-between stuff.
- Give away everything you don’t need to live a simpler life… everything; life isn’t about stuff, it’s about community.
- Love those who love you like there is no tomorrow… believe it or not, tomorrow will be here soon enough.
- Laugh at yourself every chance you get… after all, who do you think you are fooling?
But there is one more (of course) that I should share, and it goes like this… develop a personal mission statement and let it guide you as you travel the highways and byways of your existence. I like to be reminded of mine from time to time, so I’ll share it with you…
I am a compassionate friend, living in the present, thinking in the future, embracing all people with love, dignity and respect… mentoring those who dream.
Today, as I celebrate my first full day of being 62, I hope that you will reflect on the wisdom you might share with others, even if they are wiser (and in Rex’s case, older) than you. Take time to define who you are and your purpose for being. Laugh and love like there is no tomorrow, and sleep like a well fed baby every night. Don’t give up on your dreams, any of them, and fight for those things you believe in. All of them.
After all, you only come this way once, and when you are gone, your memory will fade into the distance just as the sunset fades into the coming of night. Your time is now… take advantage of it and let your life soar!
PS – Give up television, too. Just unplug it. Better yet, throw it out. You don’t need it, you know. We ditched ours a decade ago and have yet to miss it!