Threescore and Ten: What It Feels Like
Recent studies have shown that the more birthdays you have the longer you’ll live. Who knew!
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It’s an early go today so I’m jumpstarting with a hand crafted double shot Americano from my trusty stove top espresso maker. Each month I look forward to bringing you the best of ideas that are actionable towards our growth and support as leaders of a foremost community service organization. They are based in our vision and values. They come near the top of the month and that’s on purpose. It’s to inform us, inspire us, keep us focused on the realities of the month ahead.
I write about leadership in life, and connecting the dots between work, relationships, faith, leadership and human nature. So please grab a coffee, tea, kale smoothie or whatever you love to drink, put your feet up and spend a little time with me.
Hitting Threescore and Ten: Here’s What It Feels Like
Things I’ve Loved and Learned Along The Way
So…….If 50 is the new 30, and 60 is the new 40, then is it too far-fetched to assume that 70 is the new 50?
Here’s the thing. My current existential crisis is that my 70th birthday just went whizzing by yet somehow, I still feel remarkably un-different.
While it’s tempting to make light of the hefty number of years I’ve spent on this planet, something is calling me to hit it hard and head on — no cutesy euphemisms about “70 being the new 50,” etc. I think it’s time to just call it.
I’m officially now a “more vintage” dude.
I’ve always thought of “older” being at least 15 years beyond where I was at any given time and conversely younger people were just varying degrees of younger. There does seem to be more and more of those younger types these days.
My friend Don (younger) says “I keep forgetting how old you are Lorne. You still have all your hair and teeth” while my neighbor Ray (older) snorts “Ha! you’re still just a kid!“
While today’s 70 is nothing like the 70 year olds of my parents’ Geritol generation, there is no dodging the fact that turning 70 marks a whole new escapade in life. The one we used to call “old age.”
I’m still bending my brain around what is “old” exactly? And what does it mean to be 70 in a society that worships youthfulness and people strive to maintain it at all costs?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: From my current vantage point, getting older is exactly what I tell myself it is, no more and no less. (Much like everything else in life) I’d like to think I’ve earned a few more time outs. It doesn’t mean I need to set up camp there and have a snooze. I love the senior discounts on my favorite things and the surprised looks that comes when I ask for them.
Staying moving for me means more than just remaining physically active, although doing so is critical for us more vintage dudes. Getting older also means learning to appreciate each day as a new adventure challenge with the possibility of a few random aches and pains. There is still much to be discovered!
At age 70, I appreciate the verve and the discipline of my younger dude self who put in time at the gym keeping fit and strong, so that today, I can keep on moving, physically, intellectually, spiritually and creatively. It allows me to hoist the grandkids and chainsaw down firewood trees up at the lake. (dead ones of course)
I appreciate more than ever my lifelong love of learning new stuff, my boundless curiosity about people and what makes them tick. I appreciate my capacity to focus intently and navigate complexity better than most. I appreciate that boyhood dude that still lives in me who always wants to know and see what’s next and is committed to figuring out a way to get there.
Things I’ve Loved And Learned Along The Way
To be clear this is not a comprehensive list. That would be way too long. And If I were writing this tomorrow it might be entirely different.
I’ve learned that Parkison’s Law actually works and can be applied to almost anything.
IE. The work always expands to fit the time allowed. The junk always expands to fit the space allowed. Brain monkeys always occupy whatever brain space they are given and on and on. Lesson: healthy boundaries work. Book of Proverbs – anywhere
Then there’s the Law of Randomness that kicks in every once in a while, randomly of course, and makes life totally uncertain, unpredictable and sometimes tragic.
I’ve learned to cherish friendships. Good ones are hard to find so I work hard at keeping them. Kinda like a bank account, you have to open up and make some deposits and not just withdraw. My best friendships have been tested by time and adversity. So-so friendships always need a bit more of a test drive before investing.
I love “Whoa” moments. A true “Whoa” moment is hard to come by and ever harder to maintain for very long, but you realize that somehow it profoundly changes you. It’s the difference between an amazing photograph and some astounding facts about Niagara Falls and the experience of standing right there at the railing at the brink with the thundering roar of the water and the earth shaking beneath your feet and the heavy mist hanging in the air and clinging to your skin.
I love gazing up at the sheer enormity and beauty of the Milky Way in the clear northern sky realizing that that our little solar system and sun is only one of several hundred billion others in our galaxy alone. Whoa!
Moments like these bring on some intense combination of awe, elation, sadness, wonder and clarity. More than anything they make me feel ridiculously and profoundly humble and weirdly insignificant.
It was a moment like that years ago, where I determined to work solely on the things that bring me joy with people I love. Life pushes back on that now and then, but yes, that’s been the “stay the course” life strategy for me.
I’ve learned it really pays to check my default settings every once in a while.
You know when that little wheel thingy starts spinning endlessly in the top left corner on my screen of life, it’s time to hit “Force Quit” and check those settings that govern my responses, attitudes and interactions with others.
Gratitude vs. self-pity
Generous vs. selfish
Benefit of the doubt vs. instant skepticism
Showing up and caring vs.not
Quick to listen, slow to speak vs. not
Trusting vs. wary
Thinking critically vs. being critical
Bias for action vs. waiting ‘til things are exactly perfect.
Focusing only on downsides vs. acknowledging upsides
Some things that haven’t changed: I want to be healthier. I want to be more creative. I want to find what is hidden inside of me, dig around, unleash it. I want to find the strength to do that. It’s not an easy to thing to do. To scrape the dirt and dust that collects inside of ourselves. To explore. To wander. To create.
Thanks to each one of you for spending this time with me every month for some years now and sharing this amazing journey. I plan on sticking around and “doing life together” for at least another 20, so stay tuned.
I’ll keep sending back postcards from this new frontier.
Older dudes that inspire me.
Moses – didn’t start his life’s work until he was 80
Nelson Mandela – didn’t hit his peak influence ‘til 76, tried a brief retirement but then un-retired at 85
BB King was still writing tunes, rockin’ it out and touring in his late 80’s
Just sayin ‘
Got any Whoa! moments you care to share ?
Any default settings you’re struggling with right now?
I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.
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