For Release February 19, 2006
Another Trip Around the Sun
by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent
There was a song that came out last year that spoke of growing older as "another trip around the sun." I celebrated another trip around the sun last week, in fact it was the 50th such trip. I don't think I ever thought about what 50 was going to feel like. After all, when you're a kid you're focused on 16 so you can drive, then 18 to get out of school and 21 so you can be an adult. I don't think I've given much thought to a birthday ever since my 22nd.
Naturally I picked up a lot of kidding about being over the hill recently. My response is that I'm not over the hill, but I've got one heck of a good vantage point. There was a definite difference between the cards I received from those people older than me and those younger than me. Failing memory seems to be a major theme of many of those cards. But then I was blessed with absentmindedness long before my quarter century celebration, so that's nothing new.
I did receive my AARP membership application, which I will send in. And I have noticed that I am occasionally awarded a Senior Citizen discount at some restaurants. My 89 year old father finds this development quite humorous. Naturally, being the youngest of five, my siblings have all had great fun with little brother achieving the half century mark!
Age is an amazing thing though. For the most part I don't feel any older. I do find that I take a more pragmatic look at what my body can or can't do now days - more specifically it's resilience and ability or inability to take physical abuse. I may not be able to run a marathon, but I'm still fairly flexible. Recently I did have momentary thoughts of getting my skateboard out of the attic and hitting the sidewalks. But then I remembered that people my age that do stunts like that, go to work on Monday mornings with injuries they don't want to talk about. So "hitting the sidewalk" took on a much more literal interpretation and the skateboard stayed in the attic.
I feel that my outlook on life is still one of someone that's 25 or 30... or maybe 35, but not 50. But then, what is 50 supposed to feel like? In some parts of the world, the life expectancy doesn't even get to 50, so someone my age would probably be considered an elder. I honestly think that 50 today is younger than it was 50 years ago. Maybe someday I'll wake up one morning and all of a sudden feel old. But not today, nor this week, nor this month. I have no feeling that time is running out. I have lots of things I want to do yet in my lifetime, but I don't feel like a brick wall is looming ahead of me that will prevent me from doing these things.
I reach the minimum age for retirement in about a half dozen years, but I don't think I want to retire then. However after I reach that milestone, if some interesting opportunity comes along, I may have to think about it. I'm a firm believer that life is not a race. A race is won by the person who gets to the end first, so that sure doesn't fit. Life is a journey and it's not about the destination, it's about the things we see and do along the way. I don't know how much of my life is over, and I refuse to dwell on that.
The late Hubert Humphery once said that life is to be enjoyed, not endured. I have kept this motto with me for a long time. I take my job seriously, but I don't take myself seriously. I try to look at everything with the amazement, wonder, and questioning of a 7 year old. I look out at the world and I see so much I want to learn yet and so much that there is to do. So I guess as long as I want to learn and I want to do, there's still a future ahead of me! Do you want to join me on the journey?
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