My response: I can’t believe I made it this far.
Yesterday, I celebrated my 60th Birthday.
My response: I can’t believe I made it this far.
It took some time to get to that response. Given my family’s history over the generation before me, I was concerned about my own mortality. My father passed away at age 55 due to multiple heart attacks and his struggle with diabetes. My mother fought 13 years after two strokes, a history of high blood pressure, and the resulting disabilities that further lead to an amputation above the right knee. She passed away at age 62.
This family’s generation had a goal to outlive our parents. My brother is doing exceptionally well with weight loss and renewed energy. He will be the first to do so. I am very proud of him.
On the other hand, there’s me.
I was in denial for a long time about the health issues that I dealt with for most of my life. These past few years were indeed challenging. I’m doing what I can to keep going.
After all, I made it this far.
It used to be that the age of 60 was when life became more precious, and longevity was not guaranteed. These days, statistics show that Americans are living longer. The 2020 United States Census showed that one out of six people in this country are aged 65 and over.
If you haven’t noticed, some of the more prominent personalities in this country are living well into their 90s – even over 100.
All of this was not entirely possible when I was born. Sixty was seen as entering the “twilight” of one’s life. Advances in science, healthcare, and fitness has everything to do with longevity of life in today’s society.
As an added bonus, society is treating our older population better than before. Today’s Baby Boomer population have a different mindset about their place in society. Hence why we have a growth in the number of older adults who are living longer today.
Perhaps that’s why I made it this far.
There are lingering attitudes about age and aging that I’ll admit I hold on to. The attitude that being younger is always better. Being healthy is also better.
On the other hand, being resilient and determined are all part of staying alive. Always keeping up with what is happening now, as well as retaining the memories of the past, keeps me in the game.
Hard work was something that I understood was the way towards success. Not evoking some form of privilege, entitlement, or membership of some fraternity. Nor did I come from a so-called perfect upbringing or followed a script of the prescribed trajectory of education, career, relationship status, property rights, and so forth.
The path to this career may have been a late arrival – now going on 20-plus years. Not exactly a second act or third. But, falling into an opportunity when online automotive content was getting established as a legitimate channel. Look how far we have grown and matured. Look how far I have grown and matured.
Then again, I often wondered whether I have another tough act to follow this one. Or, rather if this could be the final act.
And, yet, I made it this far.
Career and health are important in maintaining a life that has lasted this long. However, there is more to that.
It is about turning dreams into reality. It is about fulfilling them and making them resonate on a personal level. During my 60 years, a lot of dreams became true.
Is it about the company one keeps? I would agree with that. Friends have come and gone, but some throughlines continue to guide this life. Today, I have a good core of friends that I am happy to have in my world. You have to at this age.
Today, the people are still my friends range from geography,, age, education, income, sexual orientation, relationship/marital stratus, cultural background, and so forth. I never believed in some sort of societal cohesiveness, as each and every one of my friends add context, experience, devotion, and a form of connectivity to the universe and back.
The people closer to my life rode with me from time to time. Some for decades. We witnssesed our rise – and, sometimes, our fall. But, somehow, we always dusted ourselves off to rise again and stay there. If I understood that concept correctly, that's how friendships work.
What makes me happy these days? Being able to write on things I enjoy – even if I have to assign myself to do so. Being able to have a positive outlet when things get a little rough. Boomer may not be the first thing you would think of that would fulfill that “positive outlet.” Yet, if happiness is a musical instrument – in this case, a 35-pound, 30-inch tall drum made of wood, skin, and metal – then, I have a happy companion.
All of this has brought me this far.
Far to the point where celebrating a milestone is meaningful. It is still something to live for.
Being 60 feels different. It does not feel like what my life when I was younger. Things have changed. The venue has changed. My body has changed.
There are still some things that remain the same. Those are the things that keep me whole. I am blessed that I am still here to see them through.
If you wished me a Happy Birthday yesterday – perhaps through text or by social media – thank you.
Here is to 60. Let’s see how this year will transpire.
All photos by Randy Stern