Sunday, October 4, 2015

On Turning 70

I suppose every birthday that contains a zero is a milestone of sorts.  Turning 10 was a big deal for me.  I remember when turning 20 that 21 was just a year away and represented so many freedoms.  Becoming a 30-something had a ring to it and 40, well, at the time people said 40 was the crest of the hill.  We partied like crazy at 50 just because we still could and wanted to prove it.  60 was the harbinger of 65 - Medicare, the specter of retirement, becoming a "Senior Citizen" and oh so many bodily changes we won't go into here.

However, if I thought all those milestones were significant, I had no idea until the BIG 70. My family and friends went crazy.  We celebrated my birthday for nearly three months, from two months before to days after the actual date, I was treated to one surprise after another.  Huge parties, intimate gatherings, dinners out, dinners in, a relaxing week with Vicki at the site where we honeymooned 47 years earlier - you name it, we celebrated my seventy years on the planet in style.  

Let me say immediately that I thank God for this day and every day which has come before, all 25,550 of them. All of the people He has put into my life have been amazing. Family, friends, mentors, teachers, classmates, employers, employees, suppliers, customers, just an incredible number of good people to share the ride. He has blessed me with the best wife any man could ask for - a beautiful woman, inside and out, who is my stalwart supporter, my companion, my partner, my best friend. God has blessed me with two of the most wonderful children - two people who represent perfection in womanhood; beautiful, intelligent, creative, successful and superb wives and nurturing mothers. Which brings me to the reason I know there is a God; grandchildren.  I knew He liked me before, but after my three grandchildren, I KNOW He LOVES ME.  What a blessing.  Perfect little people.

So what now?  I am 70 and my life, like a lot of others, with all of its ups and down, its trials and occasional disappointments, has been exceptional.  So what is next?  Is this the crest of the hill or are we on the down slope and just didn't realize it?  Many people talk about life as a journey.  Mine has been so positive.  I was on a plane one time traveling from California to Ohio.  It was late evening and the sun was going down in the west.  We were traveling over the Four Corners region and as I looked down upon the desert at the mountains and bluffs, the rivers and canyons below, the low sun had turned the landscape into a pallet of deep, rich colors; vibrant blues, dark reds, bright yellows, burnt oranges, and deep purples. It was positively gorgeous and nearly took my breath away.  Behind me there was a couple, the man sitting at the window seat and the woman on the aisle.  I overheard her ask her husband to look out the window and tell her what he saw.  His response was, "Nothing but desolation."

I could not believe my ears.  Here was one of the most beautiful panoramas I had ever witnessed and all he sees is desolation.  What is it that makes one person see the glass as half full and the other as half empty?  There is beauty in every part of the journey, you just have to be positive enough to see it.  

One of my favorite songwriters and vocalists is Enya.  O.K., I know she was big in my fifties, but her lyrics still ring true today.  Consider these from her song, "Anywhere Is..."

"I walk the maze of moments, but everywhere I turn to, begins a new beginning but never finds a finish.  I walk to the horizon but there I find another.....the turn I have just taken, the turn that I was making, I might be just beginning, I might be near the end."

New horizons have presented themselves to me all my life and I am looking forward to discovering the next one.  As we negotiate this maze of moments, I know I am not just beginning, but I am pretty certain I am not near the end just yet.  Let's do it together.

Comments?  Love to hear from you.

Jud Smith