This summer, I put another birthday notch in my life belt.
For about a month before this event, I wondered if I would live to see it. You see, I find myself growing quite suspicious of birthdays lately.
Every day, I hear about guys my age (or younger) just suddenly crashing through the veil, and it’s not always sick guys. Many times, it’s Mr., “I just ran 37 miles before breakfast” guy, or, Mr., “My doctor said I could live to be 100” guy.
I am neither of those guys, so what chance do I have if the sickle-bearing robe-wearer of all my nightmares took them out? For crying out loud!
Look, I know my hourglass has a lot more in the bottom than it does in the top, and I really try not to spend a lot of time considering my own mortality, but the fact is, my birthdays have become a countdown now, instead of a count up, and it can be a little disconcerting, especially for a guy who is so in love with life on this planet.
This is not to say life has been perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I have mourned the loss of loved ones and lovers to the point I was certain I had used every tear in my allotment. I have been so disappointed in myself and others that I never imagined being able to trust either of us again.
I’ve been so broke that bank alarms went off whenever I walked by on the sidewalk, and I’ve given next month’s rent to the dealer more often than I care to admit.
These moments are obviously not the reason I cling so dearly to life. These are the moments I had hoped to survive, pulling myself along with every ounce of strength I had in order to come out on the other side — to love again, to smile again, to be hopeful once more.
This past birthday, I took my boat out on the lake and basked in the sunshine of life both literally and figuratively. I spent the day that marked my 55th year on planet earth in wide-eyed amazement at the joy and beauty that is often fleeting, but always worth looking forward to.
The odds are against me having 55 more years, but if I do, I plan to relish every moment to the degree that it is possible, and to use the lessons of the last 55 years to make the next ones a little less stressful.
I’ll still take a few chances, but I’ll try to be a bit more cautious.
I’ll still laugh at stupid, and sometimes off-color jokes, but I’ll try to be a little more serious.
I’ll still drive too fast, but I’ll try to enjoy the actual journey more.
I’ll still say the wrong thing at the wrong time, but I’ll try to be quicker to apologize.
I’ll still eat too much at times, but I’ll try to make sure to spread those times out a little further.
I’ll still forget to pray once in awhile, but I’ll try to make sure my prayers are more sincere.
But mostly, I will make sure that those who love me–warts and all–are shown the appreciation they deserve for doing so.